Say It Soulfully
We’ve all heard that only a small percentage of communication is verbal and the largest percent is NON-verbal. But in this extroverted culture, we like to talk! We feel good once we’ve said our piece, losing the fact that, whether the person really got our message, is more about HOW we said it and the energy that came through us.
It’s easy to get all heated and fiery when we want to be heard, but sometimes the calm-reflective waters of deep-active listening can give the dynamic just what it needs for a more meaningful conversation. A little compassion and consideration of the other person, can allow love and deep respect to take the place of conflict and bitterness.
Here are 5 key ingredients:
1) REFLECT LIKE WATER. It’s easy to want to jump and get what you want to say in there as fast as you can. But slowing down the pace to be sure you hear the message you’re receiving first by paraphrasing what you heard, can dramatically change your understanding of the situation, and your response. And it’s a way to clear misunderstandings and acknowledge the other person, which changes the entire feeling of the interaction.
2) GET TO THE CORE ISSUE. There is always a core issue behind the surface issue, but often it’s unconscious. We each bring our individual issues into a relationship and project them onto the other person (if we don’t want to own them ourselves). So the answer lies in what does each person really want that they are not getting? What do they need to express that they don’t know how? And what are the hidden feelings behind their defenses that they’re not willing to own? Each person must discover this for themselves, and sensitively reveal it in the relationship if appropriate. It may be that there is a lack of love, communication, or intimacy. And it’s about acknowledging these needs, rather than getting caught up in the details. It helps to listen deeply to each other and express your needs as requests that the other person can choose to consider.
3) REALLY ACKNOWLEDGE THE OTHER PERSON. I find that 9 times out of 10,
one of the main core issues in any relationship, whether it be romantic, platonic, familial, or even business, is that people DO NOT feel acknowledged and validated for who they are. Instead they are made to feel wrong, ashamed, or emotionally abandoned. And as much as in this day and age we are “self-responsibility” fanatics, the fact is that we do not live each on our own island. And we do not live in a bubble unto ourselves apart from others. Our personal bubbles overlap. And we want them to because we are social creatures. We live in an interdependent existence. And it is responsible to treat each other with deep care and consideration in any relationship. And you’d be surprised how far simple but genuine acknowledgment of another can go in a relationship! Our existence actually depends on being seen, heard and felt by other human beings.
4) OWN YOUR EXPERIENCE. It’s easy to think and tell someone they are responsible for how you feel, or imply that they caused it. This is especially unfair when their intention was not to do so, and they were just acting from their own viewpoint. It helps if you can own your experience of how you received a communication, or a certain sensitivity to how you were triggered (and triggers can be very loaded and built up from a long history of life events and interpretations of those events, a.k.a. “baggage.”). If you can communicate an attitude of ownership of your experience, then there is nothing for them to argue with. Whereas, if you hold another responsible for your feelings, they can argue indefinitely behind defending themselves. Most people would rather blame someone else than feel guilty. Sometimes it helps to simply say how you feel, and acknowledge where it really comes from, and that it’s something you’re working on. The right people for you will stay in your life, despite your imperfections.
5) APOLOGIZE. Remember when you played as young child? One of the first things you probably learned when you hurt someone is to say you’re sorry. Well sometimes this step alone will serve to acknowledge someone else’s pain and how you’ve affected them. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t intentional. If their feelings were hurt, then it can hurt even more to not communicate that you are sorry. What you’re sorry for is the effect that it had on them. And when receiving an apology, what you want to avoid at all cost is to then kick them while they’re vulnerable. Like this: the other person says, “I do understand how that affected you, as I have been there myself, and definitely didn’t mean it to be hurtful”, and then you say: “yeah that was really insensitive of you…”. This is called rubbing it in! Just don’t do it. It’s insult upon injury. If someone steps down and apologizes, it’s best to do so yourself and just dissolve the tension and come together again in harmony. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, it’s the gesture that’s important. And it’s about choosing the higher expression of love over the fears and entanglements.
Soulful Communication is about one soul acknowledging another on a deeper level, not about the entrapments of ego and personality demands. It calls for honesty, compassion and self-love. And we always have the option of choosing!
For more of my work on relating soulfully:
My Kindle ebook essay on this subject can be found here: LAYLA’s eBOOK
Join me in the premiere of my new radio show on KPFK, Aug 7th!