Remember when we use to talk? We were able to solve the world’s problems over an ice cream soda.
What happened to the art of conversation? Now it seems to be texting, tweeting and posting on Facebook – and we talk in acronyms – seemingly a foreign language for many.
What happened to that face-to-face conversation that allowed us to use our senses of seeing beyond the spoken word, hearing the intonations and meaning, touching the outstretched hand, tasting the salty tear on the soft cheek or smelling the freshly laundered shirt?
Conversation is that give and take in exchange of ideas, dreams, and desires. Where is that opportunity for us to swap thoughts – to gain perspective? What happened to us?
Often, in my coaching discussions, the discovery of the client is that he/she has presumed an understanding or intention of the other person. One of my first questions is – how did that conversation go? And the answer is often: “Oh, we didn’t talk…I just know!” Hmmm….interesting!
Stephen Covey’s Habit 5 is: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This is one of my favorite ‘habits’- although, I’m confident I can be very annoying or even frustrating to some! I am sometimes viewed as resistive when I continue to ask questions – so that I can better understand. Yet, how can I understand if I do not question the why and what and how? It is an incredible beginning to understanding.
Relationships often deteriorate because of assumptions or misreading queues. Talking, listening and having courageous, loving, challenging, refreshing, healing conversations are critical to our well being and to our relationships.
Before your next text or tweet or Facebook post – take a moment and consider Habit 5…what would it be like to fully and completely understand the recipients’ point of view – his/her intention? Am I clear? How would my response differ if we had a conversation?
What would it be like to solve this problem over an ice cream soda?
Do you sometimes struggle to get the right words out?
Here is what I am noticing: I often practice, silently – in my head, the words I want to say or the message I want to convey and usually get it ‘just right’. And then, I come face-to-face with the person I want to talk with and all those wonderful words and thoughts seem to evaporate! There is either nothing coming out of my mouth – or it is not at all what I practiced!
I find myself glossing over what I want to express, or maybe emotions get in the way and the meaning is not precisely what I intend. Sometimes, I think the other person gets in the way of what I want to communicate. You know the feeling: they look at you with ‘that look’ and you freeze – or worse, you explode! Maybe I am afraid I’ll hurt their feelings. Maybe I am afraid they will hurt mine…
Communication is tough and yet it is how we interact in this world of ours. One would think we would be experts!
Here is what I have learned – When I communicate ‘authentically’, not only is my message heard, but also I realize that I listen with genuine conscientiousness.
What does it mean – authentic communication? It is a real connection to others. It is being genuine, true, sincere, honest, frank and open. In order to BE this with others, I must first BE authentic with myself. I must clear my filters – the barriers and prejudgments of what is getting in the way.
As I am practicing what I will say to (or ask of) another person, I must do so from the place of dignity and respect; from honesty and gratitude; from innocence. I must see ‘me’ for whom I really am, authentically, and see the other person from this place as well.
The risk? Becoming open and welcoming to allow the other person into my world. Permitting myself to be seen as who I really am, in that moment – to see what is true right now.
This may mean some silence – perhaps awkward silence – as many of us are uncomfortable with this form of communication. Yet, silence in the moment of authentic communication can say so much – would you agree? Silence gives our minds a chance to ‘digest’. And, when we allow the mind to absorb from the place of dignity and respect; from honesty and gratitude and innocence, we experience the person (and message) as whole and complete.
Authenticity – it is what makes the entire communication experience flow.