Are you always mindful of how you talk and communicate to others?
Do you know the impact your spoken (and unspoken) words are having on your family, friends, co-workers, and strangers?
And are you fully confident that your communication skills will always help you get through to others, and achieve the outcomes you want?
Most people can’t say YES to all those questions - which is why the art of conscious communication is so important.
Conscious communication means communicating with empathy, self-awareness, and integrity - and becoming more aware of the communication patterns that silently influence how you show up in the world, and how others perceive you.
Ancient Buddhism discusses the four communication principles to reach harmony among human beings. These are: truthfulness, kindness, usefulness, and peace. Each one of them aims to make conversations more valuable and meaningful. However, they require awareness and work.
“Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good.”
A quickfire Conscious Communication checklist
Here are some of the principles you’ll want to keep in mind in order to be an effective conscious communicator:
* Always pay attention to your delivery when speaking. What you say is important, and so is how you say it.
* Avoid sending “condescending” verbal or nonverbal messages in the way you speak and deliver your communication.
* Strive for calm, neutral language that conveys your message in a respectful manner.
* Avoid “challenge words” that imply that you are questioning or diminishing the value of the other person’s point of view. Words like “however”, “but”, “although” or “instead” can elicit defensiveness and shut down collaborative communications before your message has been processed.
* Listening is key. Instead of evoking a “fight or flight” response, your best bet for achieving effective communication and cooperation is to be a good listener in the communication process.
* In contrast to “challenge words”, “ownership” words help facilitate collaborative and cooperative communication by reducing feelings of defensiveness and perceived threat. The number one “ownership” word is “I” (vs. “you”). By using “I” messages instead of “you” messages, you automatically increase the likelihood that your message will be heard. For instance, instead of saying, “You need to stop watching all that television because no chores are getting done so the house is a mess,” you might say, “I am exhausted and the house is a mess.”
* Defensive communication happens when a message triggers a sense of threat, and therefore defensiveness, on the part of the listener. Defensive communication involves not only the actual verbal message, but also body language, tone of voice and perceived meaning and intention as well. As a person becomes more defensive, he or she becomes less and less able to perceive accurately the message and the motives of the speaker.
* Instead of the judgmental, accusing and superiority driven communications, try the following strategies:
Use descriptive vs. judgmental messages: (I’d like to hear about your day.)
Speak messages in ways that give the listener more sense of control: (I have a request…)
Use language that conveys empathy and respect for the listener: (Would you mind if we skipped cocktails and just ordered dinner?)
Use communications that imply equality between yourself and the listener: (Can we troubleshoot this problem together?)
How to get what you want, with love and empathy
Art by: Amanda Sage
One of the most useful applications of conscious communication is being able to influence another person to support your objective or perspective - in the most loving and mutually beneficial way possible.
Here are the three steps to getting what you want through conscious communication:
Step # 1: State an Observation
Start the conversation in a non-defensive way. Avoid blaming, making character assassinations, or condescending generalizations. Instead, focus on observations – what you see or hear.
Instead of saying: “You must have stopped at the party after work!” Or “Why do you act like that?” Or “You never come home on time.”
Say: “I see you are home later than usual.”
Step #2 Describe Your Feelings
Follow-up your observation by telling the person how the circumstance or behavior made you feel. Identify your feelings and expand on your definition of these feelings.
Instead of saying: “I am upset with you.” Or “You made me feel frustrated.”
Say: “I am frustrated and feel that I have no influence in this matter.”
Step # 3: Make a specific behavioral request
The final step in achieving change using non-defensive communication is to make a request regarding how things could be done differently in the future. By making a specific request, you are letting the other person know that you are not interested in holding grudges or complaining. Rather, you are interested in working towards a constructive solution to a common problem.
Instead of saying: “Why didn’t you write that article up when you know the team needs it by tomorrow?”
Say: “Could you please have that written up for the team by tomorrow?”
Lastly, remember to choose empathy when someone shares their hard emotions with you. Maybe they had a really bad day. Maybe they had a fight with a friend. All you need to do is relate and listen. That’s how to truly connect with other people.
This may be harder for people who:
- Minimize: To minimize is to look for ways to tell someone that the situation you’re experiencing is not so bad. The bottom line is there is no attempt to try to connect or understand.
- Storytell: Sometimes, people are so eager to find ways to relate to you it’s as if they are combing through the rolodex in their brain to find a story to share.
- One up. To one up is to remind that matter what happens to you, there will always, always be someone in the world who has it worse. When you’re going through something hard, the last thing you want to hear is how someone else’s pain competes with yours.
- Overreact: One of the most interesting and surprising responses came when people overreact and you end up consoling them when you were also upset.
- Advise: You don’t always need someone to give you advice or solve your problems.
- Pick up: The silver lining is great after you’ve fully heard and feel what someone shared with you. To resort to the pick up is to say look on the bright side or say or say everything happens for a reason. It sounds like this: “At least, you’re in a loving marriage” “At least, the cancer is very treatable.” “At least, you still have your job / house / friends, etc.”...These responses sound okay in theory, but instead of making someone feel better, it white-washes their feelings.
- Dodge: literally when someone dodges and says they have to go off it seems like a hard conversation.
“Rarely, can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”
Tips for empathy:
-just listen, that’s it.
-connect with their feelings, how would you feel if you were them?
-acknowledge their feelings. Sometimes even if you don’t respond, just saying thank you for trusting me and sharing or I can’t imagine how that feels or I see how that must be hard.
-show them love however you feel or that they receive it best.
This type of communication takes practice. But if you use the suggestions above, you will see your inner world and outer world harmonize over time.
The Crystal Of Conscious Communication
Turquoise is the crystal of friendship, romantic love, and emotional balance. By keeping it close to you, you can instantly deepen your connection with anyone - and even open the line between your heart and your words.