Are you aware of exactly HOW you TALK to people? Do you speak to the highest in everyone you meet or does that change from person to person? Do you listen to what they mean instead of what they are saying? If your answer is anything less than a firm “Yes”, then like many of us, you could use some improvement in this area that takes up a big portion of how we communicate (since we communicate non-verbally too of course). Get ready to slice through some self-defeating traits that make you a watered down version of who you really are. In the process discover your own personal ‘humble greatness’: something we all have I believe, and it’s attainable right now.
This article isn’t intended to whip you in shape since I feel there are enough out there already doing that. But this will be an article to help blast away old habits, in a subtle way if you will allow it. It’s about finding the courage to slow down to learn some fundamental truths about ourselves and in the process realize we can ALL communicate better, right now – even right after reading this article!
Now, I know Communication is an ambitious topic that is very complex, since we are all unique people, with different backgrounds, upbringings & preferences that shape every part of how we communicate. But if we are more aware of some common pitfalls (which I’ll list below), it can radically help us become more of an effective communicator right away. Once we shed light on what’s not working for us, we will naturally see what CAN work for us.
Don’t try to fix anything – just be aware
I truly believe we don’t have to try to change anything in this area to improve ourselves. Simply being AWARE of each nuance, habit, auto-pilot mechanism we have, that is NOT serving us, will naturally self-correct in an organic way. Albeit bit by bit. Conversation by conversation. And if we can do it once, we can do it again, and again. So even just a mere week of this awareness could have a profound effect on how we communicate for the rest of our lives. Therefore, how we are perceived and received.
If we do better in how we communicate we are more likely to be remembered; we are more likely to have a positive effect on others, and improve relationships all round from family to work and everything in between. Those few magical moments of conversation with another person can create or destroy the person you aspire to be. It’s worthy of some contemplation and exploration of what’s your underlying current that’s constantly driving it.
What is your intention?
Whatever it is, it should be for the best outcome for ALL. If it’s not, then you can easily get caught in a tangled web of trying to control things that are impossible to control, and why would you really want to in any case? When you’ve revealed your intentions and they are anything less than for the good of ALL concerned, it’s already skewed and doomed for failure. There is no authentic satisfaction in a win-lose conversation, only a win-win truly wins the day. Right at the start of any conversation though, people must sense that you care and are listening to them. The rest depends in large part on how much they trust you and it takes time to develop trust, but you can start right away and earn a little trust by being completely present and be open to where the conversation could flow.
Agendas: use forces, don’t fight them
Your agenda: While it is there to serve your own purpose, is it in keeping with a win-win situation for the other party? Your own agenda is always there even if you say you don’t have one. The key is being aware that it IS there instead of denying that it exists. The awareness alone will at least shed more light on it and tell you if you’re pushing your agenda more than what’s best for everyone involved. Now the other people you talk to will also have their own agendas too of course, so ultimately the subjects that share more common ground with people, will gain more momentum in a conversation.
That momentum on certain subjects builds a force that can take over a conversation, since people are now talking about something that matters to them. Use these forces that take on a life of their own, and get involved and look for the positive outcomes that could arise from them. You don’t have to have all the answers, or even an opinion. You just have to be real.
Are you always playing “Topper“?
Is this you: When someone is talking to you and before they’ve even finished you’re thinking of a similar story to top theirs with? You’re playing “Topper” and you’ve no doubt seen this frustrating trait in others. I see this all the time with my kids, yet its rampant into adulthood too! A BIG part of being a good communicator is being a good listener and you can’t effectively listen when you’re simultaneously thinking of what to say to top their story. It’s one of the biggest energy vampires of a conversation.
Do you have compassion for the other person?
Our minds will always be judging, based on many things including our upbringing, our society, our own personal preferences, so its normal to not see eye to eye with others, or agree with them on everything, but you can’t effectively talk to people if you can’t really HEAR them because of your own judgments. Compassion to me means to find a common thread with the other person. It longs to connect at a deeper level and it can if we are still enough to be very present in our conversation. If I can quiet my mind enough to truly hear you, instead of judging you by your looks, or how you talk or whatever, then I will undoubtedly hear more of your words at their core, at their meaning.
How we communicate is how we’re remembered
How we talk to people plays a big part in how we are remembered because that interaction leaves the other person with a feeling beyond the words we speak.
The ultimate value I feel we have to bring to any conversation is to be right here right NOW, and if you can honestly do that your inner/true Self is more likely to do the talking (with a capital S as you might notice!). It takes courage to allow our true self to come through but I feel we all long for it in others. I know I do, and when I see something different, quirky, or even weird in how some people communicate with me, as long as I still feel safe.
I love the fact that that person has gone there and is giving me an opportunity to see something differently. Their courage to do that is a gift I can either choose to accept through appreciation or reject by chalking it up to some notion that they are weird, or they don’t fit in. I don’t need to agree with them on the subject at hand in order to feel the benefit of that conversation. I just need to lift the veil, the filters that our society will always influence us to adopt, so I can see with my own eyes and ears what this person is truly trying to tell me.
Be true to yourself
Anytime you are being true to yourself, as authentic as you can possibly be in that moment, you are giving the world a gift because we all have some fear at some level of how others see us, but as Brené Brown said “the definition of courage is to share all of yourself with all of your heart”.
The best listeners also make the best conversationalists because to truly listen, you too have to be fully present to understand where the other person is coming from. That’s when you have real relevant material from the other person that you can respond better to.
In the NOW, I feel good
When we are truly present, in the moment, in the here and NOW, we feel good, and we feel more of ourselves than when we are in the past or the future or trying to be someone else. We also have more to offer because that presence connects us with the other person on many levels, so we are able to receive more feedback.
If I am very present with you in a conversation, I can listen deeper by not just hearing the words you’re telling me, but hear what you truly mean, which is far more important. I am more likely to pick up on little hints of something deeper that’s driving what you’re trying to tell me. This can spur me onto asking a question to probe that further. Being truly present with you means I have to empty my mind of thoughts & judgements and completely surrender the moment to you when you speak to me. In that way everything I hear from you is fresh and new, and my response will likely follow the same tone.
This takes real effort, and to me is the best gift I can give you when we are in conversation. Like anything tough though, it gets easier with practice. The results are instant and subtle but they accumulate quickly with frequency because we get more information to help us know how best to respond in a way that is more relevant and more meaningful.
Your presence is like a clean slate: anything can happen
I offer you a suggestion when you talk to people: Calm yourself enough to be truly, honorably present with the other person. Give them the gift of your Presence and your courage to do so, and yours and their uniqueness will be more felt. “Give the world your Presence as often as you can for as long as you can” said Eckhart Tolle. It will be more powerful than all the courses you could ever attend in your entire life. Imagine what that shift in perspective can bring to others as well as to you. Your presence is like a clean slate to the recipient: Anything can happen. There is room for it.
When I come away from a conversation when the other person was truly present, I ultimately feel happier. I feel more invigorated and by extension that person will be remembered by me. I feel a connection with that person that can last a lifetime. Even if I never see them again, and I feel I know that person better.
Forget about the agenda
For me, I find the best conversations happen when I forget about the agenda. Forget about time and I’m just being me, in the moment. When I do that, my mind is always naturally curious. It is inquisitive and playful, the perfect fertile ground for an interesting conversation that will leave us both nourished. This is just the start of the conversation though. I’m curious about what comes up for you when you talk to another? Do you have a good way to tune in to your true inner-Self? I’d love to hear your tips or tricks that help you feel more courageous in conversation. Maybe that will be my next article!