“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha
Hello, SOTCG community,
In this fast-paced, hectic world, driven by media of all kinds (social, antisocial, and the like), the art and skill of conscious communicating is quickly and painfully devolving into emoticons and shorthand. Why is conscious communicating both an art and a skill? Because finessing and navigating social interactions, listening actively, and responding to the basic human need to be seen, felt, and heard takes practice, practice, practice!
For example, let’s pretend that a daughter calls her mother, a middle-aged woman who has spent the better part of the last year of her life managing multiple diagnoses of serious illnesses (heart attack, high blood pressure, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, arthritis, tension headaches). The mother tackles these health challenges with grace and aplomb, but she occasionally gets frustrated. She gets tired.
The daughter asks her about her day; a great start. The mother begins to describe how she feels physically, and how that makes her feel emotionally. And then — “OMG, I had a headache last night, TOO! And I couldn’t sleep, TOO! My life is so hard, TOO!!”
The daughter is not listening. The daughter is a moron. (She may or may not be me.) The daughter needs a lesson in conscious communicating.
When you listen, are you really listening? Or do you interrupt to ask a question (innocent enough … ) and somehow make the speaker’s conversation about you ( … naughty, naughty!)? The mother here was not seen, or heard, or felt. Her story turned into the daughter’s.
So how do you cultivate conscious communication?
1. Listen actively, without interrupting, anticipating your turn to speak, or projecting your expectations and preconceived ideas.
2. Allowing the speaker to simply speak, without the movie version of what he or she says playing in your head, with all of its embellishments and judgments.
3. Welcome and support the speaker’s vulnerability; by just listening, you surrender your own and connect.
Everyone has something to offer, and when you make up stories in your head instead of listen actively, you sacrifice hearing someone’s authentic story and forging a genuine connection. Practice conscious communicating and active listening, and you will become a skillful participant in your life and the lives of others.
Are you a good listener? How do others described your communication skills? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.