The art of effective communication.
As a whole, we are far more interested in connection than separation, and communication is one of our most valuable and effective tools to that end. And yet, when we carelessly or unconsciously misuse communication, words can become weapons and more importantly, our voice and body convey messages that take us further from that which we truly desire; to be seen, heard, witnessed and acknowledged.
Here’s an example.
Years ago I was in a relationship with a person who, when disagreements came up, regularly reverted to telling me to “listen to what I’m saying, not how I’m saying it.” Try as I might at the time, I could never do it. I could never stay connected, much less further the conversation. The words were often thoughtlessly unleashed, the tone demeaning, the stance closed; everything was about releasing his tension rather than understanding or resolving the issue at hand. In those moments the wounded part of me regressed to my elementary survival skills of withdrawal and disconnection. I could no longer hear what was being said, nor stay connected to the conversation and a productive conclusion.
Time after time this broken form of communicating led to the same dead end.
I made the decision to ardently study, understand and embrace highly effective communication skills that better serve and support the relationships I’m committed to fostering and experiencing. This began by expecting more of myself than the other person in a conversation.
All of life requires communication, with either ourselves or others, and our abilities either get us closer to what we want or move us further from it. We can, and should, choose to be responsible and consciously in charge of our interaction skills by understanding the fundamental formula that allows us to more significantly articulate, and effectively influence, the very outcomes that are important to us.
Everything carries weight and counts in communication; your words, your voice and even your body are constantly conveying your message and creating an environment of connection or separation. Here’s how the components stack up:
Your Words 7%
Your Tone of Voice 38%
Your Body Language 55%
Words: Use words that respectfully and specifically allow you to communicate your request, identify your need, or connect in a meaningful way. Know your audience and desired outcome so that the words you use are relevant, effective, and ethically influential.
Tone of Voice: Understand the power of the tone, speed, volume and timbre of your voice. This key communication skill can serve to either exacerbate or mollify a situation. And, it can be an indicator of the intensity of your investment in the exchange and result.
Body Language: Be especially aware of the posture you model, the gestures you use and the facial expressions that you reach for. Even your breathing and the proximity to the person you’re speaking to strongly influences every aspect of your connection and outcome.
Communication is an energetic exchange that builds rapport and fosters outcomes. It’s a proficiency and art form that each of us can, and should, master. Take responsibility for your role in conversations and commit to knowing and refining what it requires to successfully and effectively communicate. It allows for both getting your own needs met and also meeting the needs of another, all while taking mature ownership of the preferred result we are in pursuit of.
We are real people longing for real conversations. We are here for real connection – to the bigger part of us who have more in common with each other than that which separates us. When we evolve our ability to communicate, we get to participate in conversations and connections that heal us, bridge gaps, grow relationships, brainstorm solutions, promote fresh ideas and cultivate new innovations. What a dynamic way to elevate your game and move your life forward.
Such a great article on communication, Nancy! My big take away is how important it is to pay attention to our self communications! If we are whining and complaining with our internal dialogues, we naturally will project that outwardly as well-even if we don’t intend to! For me it keeps coming back to being mindful of what it is that is dialoguing around in our minds so we can nip whatever is not in alignment with being connected to our authentic selves and our desire to be connected with others. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, wisdom and creativity with us!
Love love LOVE this – great piece, Nancy!