March 26, 2016

IMPACTful Communication

If the pen is mightier than the sword then I wonder if the keyboard might be compared to an assault rifle. Would a video blog then be compared to a weapon of mass destruction? Personally, I rather think how a poem can capture a lifetime of emotions in few thoughtful passages or how a love song can last the ages like only true love can sustain.

No matter the tool we use to communicate we must take care how we select and where we aim our words and messages. I may already offended some with my continuation of the pen and sword analogy but I hope to have recaptured your interest with the power and love song sentiments.

When writing we have the opportunity to pause, reflect, stop and think. We see our words develop into thoughts on the screen or paper and have the opportunity to change our words, passages and message before we deliver them to our audience. I realize how valuable a feature this is as I write right now. The delete key is my best friend as I write. However when I speak, I strive to be mindful that there is no delete key available to me. The listener cannot un-hear my words… we cannot unring a bell, unplung a sword.

Many clients occasionally share their version of the following:

“And then I realized, I wish I hadn’t said that” or “After I left the conversation all I could think was “Did I say something stupid or something I’m going to regret ?”.

Hearing these declarations makes me realize that mindful communication does not just happen. It’s an intentional process and an exercise we can all practice and we likely all can improve upon.

By the way, a quick delete key use count thus far writing this blog post: 16.. and I’m not completely sure I used it enough!

Being mindful of what we say takes practice. I find as a coach, practicing listening in the moment improves my ability to speak with better clarity representing my intentions more accurately. I of course will occasionally leave a conversation questioning if I said the right thing but I more swiftly remind myself that perfection is not goal. My goal is to be my authentic self in every interaction and relationship, release judgement of myself and others in every moment and most of all, give myself the grace I deserve.

Intentional speaking evolves as we practice. Spending energy “double guessing” what we need to say while we might be better served to listen to what is being said is an early piece to practice. With that type of listening comes more clarity and we begin to listen to ourselves more clearly too. Soon to follow will be the ability to know and choose our words more thoughtfully. It is seldom about the need to increase our vocabulary but rather thoughtfully choosing from what we already know. Releasing judgement clears the space and energy to more fully listen, creating a dynamic in time that feels comfortable and slower allowing processing to occur fluidly.

I think that we sometimes get lost in the idea that we need to be intentional in our most intimate and closest relationships. We perhaps think that the nature of the relationship will always “have our backs”. Unconditional love is one thing and the quality of a relationship and the experiences in that relationship is another! We can become almost neglectful in the communication in our close relationships thinking  that we’ll be ok no matter what. Counter-intuitively, I think that our most intimate relationships require MORE thoughtfulness and intention in communication. The analogy that comes to mind is the expense and resources it takes to maintain an exotic super-car like a Lotus or Lamborghini. The car itself is an amazing and rare thing but to keep it performing well it takes more resources than a run-of-the-mill vehicle. Do you want a run-of-the-mill relationship or do you want an exotic, rare, high-performance marriage, partnership, love life?

So let’s put the pens and swords down and listen, talk, reflect, be thoughtful and intentional with our words and messages with one another… shall we?