Communicating effectively with anyone!
Why is it so hard to communicate effectively sometimes, especially with the people who are closest to us?
We know that there are things that need to be talked about in our primary relationships or at work, but we fear addressing these issues out of potentially causing an upset and making things worse.
Or you start a conversation that is intended to be harmless and meaningful. You really care about this person and you want to make their lives a little better. But one minute into the conversation he or she is getting frustrated with something that you said. Because you can’t figure out what that is, and you suddenly start feeling invalidated or disrespected, or entirely misunderstood, or not trusted - YOU now get frustrated as well. All of a sudden, one or both of you are either screaming and slamming doors, or you are in different corners of the house feeling unsettled, misunderstood and angry. And are thinking “what in the world just happened?”. You start wondering if you would be better off with a different partner (or different parents) who would “understand” you or just “know” you better.
Does that sound familiar to you? One of the issues my clients ask me to help them with the most is authentic and effective communication. Relationships are such an important part of our lives and communication problems are the main reason why people argue and couples break up. Unfortunately, most of us didn’t learn how to effectively communicate from our parents, and school doesn’t teach it either.
However, communication is where everything happens. To quote John Gray (“Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”): “When men and women are on the verge of arguing, they are generally misunderstanding each other.”
To make matters more complicated, men and women are wired entirely differently – speaking from a biological and genetic standpoint – in their communications and their approach to things. And we all have underlying human emotions and fears (fears of rejection or “looking bad”, of being unworthy of making requests) that hinder us in our authenticity. This happens not only in our primary relationships, but also with our coworkers or business partners.
An authentic and effective communication involves speaking clearly and with compassion, listening, putting in what’s missing for the other person, and creating an outcome that leaves everyone involved feeling empowered, validated and heard. At the end of the conversation you and the other person feel complete with the issue and you have created a stronger, more trusting partnership (business or private).
Here’s a simple 5-step example of an authentic and effective communication:
1) Get yourself into a space of relaxation and non-judgment before you talk with your person about the issue. It’s better to speak from a place of peace. A short meditation can help with that.
2) Point out one or two things you truly appreciate about them. Even small things count. The key is to make them feel appreciated and safe. This creates what we call a "background of relatedness": Anything can be said and talked about in the space of affection and appreciation. 3) Speak your truth and make your emotions about yourself, not the other person. There is no fault-finding or blaming in this conversation. You’re only talking about your own reactions, not theirs.
4) Don't be attached to the outcome. If the other person doesn't respond the way you would have wanted them to don't take it personally. Instead listen for what THEY are committed to. Nobody's "right" or "wrong", there are nearly 8 billion possible views on the same topic (every person on the planet has their own view). Learn to be accepting and love unconditionally. Ultimately, we all want the same things: to be loved and worthy just the way we are, opinions, flaws and all. You'll be amazed at how quickly people turn around and are willing to listen to your views once you showed a willingness to listen to theirs. 5) Seal the deal, create something. What are some strategies and actions you could put in place moving forward? What’s next?
The more you practice this conversation, the easier and more natural it will become.