Using Communication Responsibly and Effectively
Once you have completed the initial dialogue with yourself, it is time to begin communicating with another. Here are some steps to help you achieve responsible and effective results.
1. Formulate consciously before speaking
Say more by saying less.Choose your words to reflect your intention and stay within that clear objective (resist multitasking and trying to get a few more things accomplished in one exchange).
It is critical that we take more time in our communication, or make more space. A voice teacher of mine used to say, “make good lace,” and good lace has lots of space. It is not tight webbing that makes it fine, but lots of air. That is the kind of communication we want. In that space, we can allow for silences and reflection. We can rest and listen without automatically reacting. We make room for the other person and for our self. As with music, much of what happens takes place in the rests and silences between the notes. So it is with quality communication. By slowing down and saying less we allow for more time to mindfully receive, experience and reflect upon what we hear, and process it. Only then do we choose our response.
While this may seem like much ado about nothing and too time consuming to be practical, consider the mess we can make by communicating sloppily. Unraveling and repairing poor, impulsive, even harmful communications are far more time consuming; rebuilding a relationship damaged by hasty communication is far more work than minding the relationship in the moment.
Say more by listening more. Say less, listen more. By listening consciously and being present for the other person, you give them a gift as well as model the behavior you wish to receive in return. How we listen seems to impact our relationships more than the quantity of information we deliver. Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the meditation master and spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path, has written, “Your greatest gift to another is your own inner self.” By being fully present we give those around us the gift of our self, as it exists in the present moment. In so doing, we honor the other and the self simultaneously (acknowledging that we identify a shared divinity, a greater, shared Self or consciousness, if you will).
3. Acknowledge: Establish connection without making yourself responsible for the other; you need neither submit to their understanding nor defend your own – there is room for all G-d’s creatures!
You can build bridges by acknowledging what you hear and what you understand the other person to be feeling. You can acknowledge what you hear and still maintain a different point of view. You are not required to take what you’ve heard as a call to action. The healing comes through the listening and acknowledging – – Agreeing and/or taking actions accordingly is not the only way to relate. You can disagree and still create a respectful, validating connection.
Listening and acknowledging can be reparative of the relationship and establish a solid foundation for communication going forward.
What happens in communications when you feel validated? Have you ever felt validated by someone with whom you still disagreed? How was that accomplished? What communication techniques have you found most effective in fostering relationships?