Conscious Communication: bringing communication
up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above
in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.
Quick Communication Tip
Early Reflections and Feedback Loops
Early reflections and
feedback loops are a noise problem in recording that can be a nightmare
for recording engineers. Interestingly enough, they’re a pretty accurate
metaphor for the noise in our heads. Sound bounces off of different
surfaces at different rates, with different amounts of absorption or
reflection. Sometimes things resonate harmonically with objects, and the
sound waves get multiplied out of control; just like in our heads.
We actually embody several voices; some in direct conflict, and some out
of sync with one another. Our life experience and upbringing, influence
the relative strength or volume of any one of these voices. We’re rarely
aware of them as separate from one another; and unless we consciously
clarify and distinguish them, we just hear the noise. When we
communicate with someone else, our voices combine with theirs, and it
gets even more complicated.
In fact each of these voices represent certain perspectives that need to
be balanced and integrated to make sense. The unconscious interplay is a
mess of reflections and cascading feedback loops; and we cope with the
noise more than we see resources to draw on. However, if we approach
this with a conscious process, we can solve multiple issues with a
single solution: an Integral solution.
Whenever a single solution goes to the core of an issue, and solves
multiple issues, it’s just elegantly efficient. A great way to look at
this is another metaphor: dandelions. Yes, I’ve been wearing this
metaphor out for years, but it’s really accurate, and it ain’t broke, so
why fix it? We can run around attacking each dandelion as it appears,
and spend our lives chasing them, or pull the roots, and they go away
altogether. That’s an Integral solution.
Going to the core or root of an issue usually means reverse engineering
to where that issue begins. So if we look at the issue of our
interactions with one another it begins with language. We relate to one
another (and ourselves) primarily through language (both interpersonal
and internal). So language is our root to reverse engineer.
It Starts in Your Head
usually unaware of, is how we talk to ourselves, and how that directly
impacts how we talk with one another. Visualize a pebble thrown into a
pond (the words in your head) with ripples going outward (your words
going outward). If I drive myself to excellence, and get really mad at
myself when I make a mistake, doesn’t it follow that there’s a good
chance I do that to others? Holding ourselves to rigid standards has
some nasty side-effects when we’re not consciously aware of how it
sounds in our own heads.
Try some of the pattern interruption from [last month’s issue] the
previous chapter. Catch yourself when you’re about to rip into yourself,
and re-frame your language as if you were talking to a small child. Feel
the difference inside you. Let yourself have that compassion; it’s
Bad Mirror! Bad, Bad Mirror!
ever heard the expression, “exactly what attracts you to someone will
end up driving you crazy?” When we have a perspective living within us
that we haven’t entirely come to understand or integrate, we’re both
attracted to it and repelled by it as it shows up in others. Again, this
is usually under our radar, so we mostly just get a “feeling” we don’t
like. When these voices and perspectives aren’t identified and
recognized for who they are, they’re nebulous and vague. We don’t know
why we feel this way, or what’s really bothering us, we just react.
When we do know where these voices or perspectives are coming from, we
can un-hook ourselves from merely reacting. We can see that there’s a
part of our self that we’re afraid is flaky, and it looks just like that
part of our friend who’s fun and spontaneous. We hear the critical voice
in our head that we can’t stand, when a friend embodies a rigidly
uncompromising point of view. We hear our own anxiety when someone
expresses worry. We cringe over someone else’s competitiveness, when
maybe it just hit too close to home.
can you do to un-hook yourself from reacting to reflections, give your
relationships a boost, and meet others in their experience with such
depth and clarity that they feel totally “heard?” It’s pretty simple,
but not always easy.
First you need to know your own voices and perspectives, so you can
recognize when you’re seeing reflections of them. Then you need to use
what is called the “Empty Cup” from an old Zen story. If you aren’t
familiar with this story, I’ll do my best not to butcher it while
A student brimming with all he’d learned was visiting his master for
tea, and was insisting that he was ready to be a master himself. He
wanted the rest of the knowledge he needed right then and there. The
master was filling the student’s teacup until it was overflowing, and
the student cried out for him to stop as no more would fit. The master
pointed out that the student was also too full for anything more to fit,
and suggested returning another time with an empty cup.
Our own voices, perspectives, assumptions, presumptions, and projections
are the “tea” filling our tea cup. The person you’re communicating with
has their cup full of their own “tea” as well. When you know your own
tea, as you approach an interaction, you can empty your cup first,
allowing room for their tea. Without all the voices, reflections, and
feedback loops, communication is much quieter and more defined.
Confusion is replaced with clarity.
Quick Communication Tip
Triple Bottom Line of Communication
addressing a single person, we can assess their core perspective by
listening to their language choices and the organization of their
arguments. There will be a central theme of identity, rightness, or
safety, that shapes and organizes their thoughts and feelings and they
will express this. When we’re really listening, we can pick up on this,
and organize our “argument” in their form of organizing. This is very
similar to speaking the language of another people when visiting their
Addressing a group is in some ways trickier, and in some ways simpler.
We don’t have the advantage of listening to them express their
perspectives, but we can be pretty sure that there will be a mixture of
all three types represented. This means developing a way of expressing
what we want to convey with a kind of triple bottom line approach. When
we talk about the new program being introduced, we need to address how
it will affect people from their perspective of identity and social
position, as well as safety, security, and not creating anxiety.
Furthermore, we need to show how it is the “right thing to do,” from a
perspective of ethics. When we cover all three processing centers in our
approach, we’re more likely to reach everyone.
Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or
catapult you forward? Come visit the
or better yet,
contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.
- the podcast series
KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Personal Life Media -
"Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (full interview)
for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain
2nd Edition now available
visit the Blog.
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Institute for Integral Enneagram
Without Losing Your Soul
about you having
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Circumstances will always be
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