Communication was never a strong suit for me while growing up. I was extremely insecure within myself so naturally, the objective of my communication was to deter the focus from this painfully apparent reality. There were even subtleties buried within my speech patterns that gave this away, such as the tendency to drop the word “so” at the end of every explanation to mask my discomfort with silence.
Much of my conversations were centered around me getting what I wanted, as opposed to collaborating with the other person to cause a breakthrough in our relationship or topic of discussion. Much to my chagrin, I was forced to acknowledge the futility of being disingenuous.
Below are four things to pay attention to in order to remain authentic and powerful in your everyday conversations:
1. The voice in our head
We all have multiple voices. Apart from the obvious linguistic abilities, we also experience a running commentary inside of our minds. This voice is very subjective, offering all kinds of alternative views and opinions on what’s happening. We often let this voice dictate how we interpret what the other person says and means. Experiences of the past are brought to the forefront along with world-views, generalizations and conclusion suggestions.
By tuning out this mental chatter, we stay in the moment. More importantly, we’re less inclined to cut off the flow of the other person’s speech and give them ample space to convey their intended message, causing their effectiveness with our listening. The ratio of ears to mouth is no accident. Giving someone the space and time necessary to access their intersection of neurology and linguistics is one of the greatest recurring gifts you can give.
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” — Bryant H. McGill
2. The trap of manipulation
Maintaining authenticity while attempting to move people from one thought to another simultaneously is a tall order. One could argue that it’s not possible, as there is no honor in attempting to control something you cannot control. Being authentic is all about showcasing the truth, and we don’t get to decide who identifies with it. Influence is a matter of choice, one that isn’t ours to make. Influence occurs when you take a stand for something with no agenda for who may join you in your efforts.
Removing our obsession with outcome keeps us grounded and powerful in our stand. We realize that all we have is the truth of our word. Should people come along and board our train, that’s wonderful. If they don’t, it doesn’t have to diminish our purpose. It can simply allow us to take responsibility to grow in our communication until we achieve the impact we desire.
3. The impact of our word
There’s no accountability level quite like that of our word. What we say has a cyclical effect on the thoughts that show up from our unconscious mind and vice versa. If we’re not careful, our word can lose weight like rapid fire.
If we’re up to something big in life, it’s not likely that we’re always going to keep our word. As imperfect and flawed human beings, the only way to keep your word 100% of the time is to play small. However, we can use this very same word to restore itself whenever our word isn’t in alignment with what happened.
By communicating our original agreement, the impact of what failing to keep our word resulted in, and what we’re going to install moving forward to minimize it from happening again, we are more integrous. This isn’t a fun conversation, but it’s a far more productive one with a much higher success rate than simply making excuses.
“Our words reveal our thoughts; manners mirror our self-esteem; our actions reflect our character; our habits predict the future.” — William Ward
4. The propensity to attach
Many times in communication we find ourselves stuck. Whatever the occurrence that took place, it’s left us feeling a loss of power or expression as a result. This often shows up in cases where someone did not fulfill the expectations of another.
While it may be temporarily gratifying to hold the upper hand in a relationship, it robs us of our fulfillment. Far too often, we choose to remain hung up on our view of how things should be or should’ve gone instead of simply being present with the person we’re with. This is easier said than done, but it’s simply a matter of choice.
Communication doesn’t always have to be about right versus wrong. We can choose to communicate from a space of empowerment or disempowerment. We always have a choice. True communication is about relatedness, not selfishness. It’s about vulnerability, not immunity.
Most importantly, stepping outside of yourself for a moment to stand for another or something greater than yourself is an act of nobility you can perform every time you interact with someone.