5 Surprising epiphanies from a deep communication workshopSep 05, 2023
Phew - it's been a busy few weeks - hence my blog was a bit more quiet than usual.
Work kept me on my toes, the sudden weather changes from hot to cold and back created extra tiredness in my body and taking care of some of my mum's stuff who is in her 80s came just on top of it.
So when I had a little time in between I decided to take a rest and spend time with my horse or on dog walks which always energises me….
But I'm digressing….today I want to share the epiphanies that came out of one of the things I did recently - which was a communication workshop.
The aha moments were so great that I had to share - maybe they will support you too!
Wouldn't it be great if we'd always understood each other if there were no misunderstandings, no hurt feelings, no exasperating conversations where we feel the other person simply doesn't get what we're saying?
Welcome to the world of communication.
An extremely complex topic.
So we went deep.
Didn't waste our time with mere superficial tools (say this instead of that etc.) that supposedly improve communication. Sometimes they do….they just don't work without a solid foundation and understanding of what happens in communication.
Let me jump to the biggest epiphanies right away:
- "The quality of our communication and conversations determines the quality of our relationships".
What? Come again!
Most people believe it's the other way around - when I have a great vibe with a person I can communicate better.
There is some truth to that - as communication tends to work better (at the start) when you have a positive connection with someone. I bet though that you know situations - often they happen in our closest relationships - that we have a connection and still, there is a communication breakdown which then leads to the relationship suffering. So voila - there's your proof.
The conclusion: We better learn how to communicate to have better relationships.
2. The meaning of what's being said lies with the recipient and not the speaker.
THAT was a huge aha effect for many. So it's on ME to put the meaning into what I hear? Absolutely. Our brain is rather busy spinning (sometimes really shitty) stories, interpreting, assuming or assigning OUR meaning to words that we hear. And all of that is based upon our patterns, beliefs and perception of life generally. A person who believes that the world is a good place will hear a different message than someone who secretly believes the world is out to get them.
3. Hardly anybody REALLY listens
Most people believe that listening means waiting for the other person to (finally) stop speaking so they can bring their side of things or their arguments in. What happens is that while the other person is talking we already form an opinion, formulate our answer, believe we know the solution etc. - and basically just wait our turn.
ACTIVE listening means being fully focused on the other person, taking everything in and making sure - when the person has finished that we understood what the person said. Means: let it sink in - maybe even taking a moment and then asking clarifying questions (see number 2….even if we believe we KNOW what someone meant - we're often wrong.
4. The same words have different meanings for different people
We tend to use big words - particularly in important conversations. Big words are collaboration, respect, trust….and many more. One infamous one: professional. That came up in the workshop. So I asked: "What is professional - for you?" I got an answer, followed by - everybody knows that.
Some might, and others might see it differently. We tend to believe that our own perspectives are common sense or common understanding - while often they are not.
For one person it might be professional to show up in flip-flops to work - for others it might not.
So before talking about those important topics - or while you do it - make sure you find a common definition of what you're talking about and how it shows up in real life. Eventually - particularly in a team or community or close relationship - definitions will be clear and don't require constant conversations. Until then, you better ensure you're talking about the same thing. Otherwise, misunderstandings are inevitable.
5. Words and emotions are intrinsically linked
Damn - there is no "objective" or "neutral" or simply "factual" conversation. As thoughts, words and emotions are linked. Often people try to strip emotions out of conversations: "Let's talk factually", "Let's look at it objectively". Outside of a numbers/figures conversation, I don't know ANY where emotions aren't present. If we are honest with ourselves. SO…the conclusion: we better accept that communication is full of emotions -also in business - and better learn how to feel, express (appropriately) and deal with them.
Probably the biggest epiphany for all of us: it's a topic with endless learning possibilities.
If you think now: well, she must have got it all sorted out - you're very wrong.
I f*ck up too
I have a lot of knowledge and apply most of it regularly, I have changed my talking and answering speed - much slower now than it used to be - that gives me the chance to choose my words (more) wisely.
I check in with my emotions often and know how to express and regulate them, I have discovered many patterns…AND STILL - I'm a work in progress, I make mistakes, react instead of respond sometimes, and I'm definitely not always ZEN and yes, I also get annoyed about other people - like you and everybody else.
It's getting better though.
Each month. Each year.
And my relationships reflect it big time.
I have close friends, whom I can trust with my life, and have utterly honest conversations with - friends I never used to have in such a way - particularly not women.
... and still, being a conscious communicator changed my life - and relationships
My relationships with my (adult) children are open, trusting and loving (most of the time). Even when we don't agree with each other's actions or opinions.
I'm open to other family members and lost the resentment I used to have - AND are able to express my boundaries, leading to far more clarity.
AND - I'm no longer avoiding difficult conversations and uncomfortable truths - in my personal and professional life - but address the "elephant in the room" - be it with a pounding heart sometimes as I don't know what the outcome might be.
The result: I stay far more aligned with myself. Calmer, content, sometimes even grateful.
While I'm writing this I can look into my garden with the terrace door open, the warm air and sunshine come in, and I feel utter serenity and peace.
Admittedly, learning how to communicate is "just" one of the puzzle pieces that brought me to where I am today. But it's a BIG one and a great place to start.
Here's to an open invitation for you to start walking this path. When you're ready.
PS: You ARE ready? Yay :-). Then simply send me a quite e-mail to [email protected] and say YES. And let's have a casual conversation about which path could be the right one for you. From super light and baby steps (LLC) to highly intensive (Plex) everything's possible. Totally depends on how fast you'd like to see results and how deep you dare to go.