A major pain point in our relationships involves getting stuck in cycles of reactive miscommunication.
No matter how big our hearts are, compassion requires effective communication.
This week, we’re diving in the fourth and final domain of my Change Spiral: Communication.
As we build our capacity, our communication skills evolve and increasingly reflect our growth and new awareness. Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication model, in particular, offers foundational and paradigm-shifting communication tools that support our shift away from control games and into deeper, more meaningful connections with ourselves and others.
Skillful communication focuses both on the content being communicated and the process through which something is being communicated. We pay attention to both what is being said, and how it’s being said.
And, if there’s conflict or misunderstanding, keep in mind that the process of communication – the how – is always more powerful than the content of the communication – the what.
My online programs put a heavy emphasis on helping you with your own capacity building as well as your communication skills, and here are some of the communication skills we’re often focusing upon:
- Using a wide range of feeling and sensation words to describe our inner experiences
- Being able to make do-able, positive requests of other people
- Asking for what we want instead of focusing on what we don’t want
- Describing “what happened” in neutral terms, free of judgment and interpretation
- Owning and describing our narratives, interpretation, and judgments for what they are
- Expressing ourselves authentically, vulnerably, tenderly – not defensively or reactively
- Telling the truth, directly, in the kindest way possible
- Listening for what people mean and not only what they say
- Hearing the pain underneath the message, instead of reacting to the delivery
- Listening for what people are asking for, even when they speak in habitual, non-skillful ways themselves
- Listening to our own interior reactions and staying grounded and able to track our own triggers instead of reacting from them
- Checking for understanding by summarizing and paraphrasing, instead of assuming we understood accurately.
As we become more skillful in our communication, we come back full circle to improving our relationships.
- We stop trying to control and manipulate one another.
- We replace constant judgment and evaluation with softer empathy and deep listening.
- We become more curious about ourselves and others.
- We enter conversations with a willingness to be changed by the interaction instead of bracing against one another.
- We find ourselves more able to flex and flow, to respond in the moment, to attune to the aliveness in any moment between ourselves and other people.
The Change Spiral Continues
We work on transforming our relationships until the next trigger arises … and then we find ourselves back in the healing work … which increases our internal capacities … which in turn increases the quality of our communication with ourselves and others … which flows back into our relationships.
We spiral through these changes, constantly increasing our awareness, our compassion, our openness, our skillfulness. We relate, we heal, we build our capacities, and we communicate more skillfully. Ultimately, we improve our relationships.
This fall, we’re diving deeper into building our capacities and our communication skills with my Full membership program. We’ll focus on increasing our capacity for Presence in September, working on the nonviolent communication skill of neutral observations.
You’re always welcome to join us, and can sign up here.
What are the communication skills you’d love to nurture? I’d love to know – leave a comment below.