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
Clipping the Wire to the PLAY Button
It often seems that certain people or situations really
trigger us. Then we either we have a knee-jerk reaction, or we stop in
our tracks, trying not to have a reaction at all. This is like "not
thinking about a pink elephant," and we know how well that works.
The only way to really separate the trigger from the reaction is
clipping the wire, or re-wiring the triggers themselves. This is totally
within our abilities, and with a little practice, we can get quite good
at it. The process is all about using language more consciously. So,
let's look at how words and language affect triggers or become triggers
in themselves, and what we can do to minimize conflict and maximize
Some verbal triggers are pretty obvious and common to the general
public. Starting with these will make the process clear. For the most
part, people are pretty focused on themselves (I hope I'm not shocking
anyone here) and regardless of how it seems, a great deal of what we
take personally is absolutely not about us. You see, we as a people tend
toward projection (again, I hope this isn’t a surprise.) Rather than
stepping outside the comfort zone of our own minds to check in with
another person on their experience, we simply make up a passable form of
reality to plug into place. So what can we do?
Whenever someone accuses you of something (their words dripping with
judgment) you can pretty much be assured that they’re telling you
exactly what they can’t stand about themselves. This is an extension of
the old “if that were me” projection.
For example, someone says, “you can’t make it as an artist!” Rather than
reacting to whether or not you feel you can, or you want their support,
or any of the other roads you could go down, the most likely meaning of
their statement was: “I don’t think I could make it as an artist.” Their
motivation for trying to dissuade you is a whole other conversation.
What you need to do is remember to not take it personally, and listen to
their “confession of anxiety” in their accusation or judgment.
When you recognize that they’re indeed confessing their own anxieties,
it’s much easier to feel compassion toward them, rather than be
triggered into defenses or arguments.
The Other Side - Their Triggers
communication is very much a two-way street, there are also things that
you may say that can trigger the other person. This is a far more
difficult situation to avoid (unless you know them and their triggers
well). You can have the most innocent of intentions, and it’s almost
shocking when they blow up at you, or withdraw and disappear.
Again, let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’re trying to connect with
someone, and you share a common ailment or issue with them, with the
intention that this commonality will bring you closer together. If the
other person has not reconciled or come to terms with this issue, your
intention could be completely lost on them, and all they hear is you
pointing out the very thing they’re miserable about.
This pushes their trigger, and they go reactive. There’s not a lot you
can do here, except to apologize for pushing their button, and probably
back off. Trying to “correct their perception” will rarely work in the
moment, because they’re too consumed with their own reaction. They’ll
put the motivation born of their own reaction on you, and close their
ears. The play button has been pushed on their internal CD player, and
there’s no room for input.
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.
are also very specific triggers that are primarily semantic in nature,
and these can be dealt with using conscious communication. As our view
of the world shapes the words, images, and metaphors of our language,
you can reverse engineer from the words back to a person’s perspective.
If someone sees the world in very qualitative ways, with many
possibilities and contingencies, speaking in absolutistic terms can
trigger them into reactive behavior. The opposite is of course just as
true, and an absolutistic person is very triggered by qualifying
language. “It is or it isn’t!!” “Give me a yes or a no answer!”
Being able to recognize the linguistic cues that people give you, so
that you can match them in their communication style gives you the
ability to create much faster rapport with them. Being able to create
rapport may be the single most important skillset you can develop for
your business and personal relationships.
The reason people buy from you, listen to you, hire you, or want to date
you, is how easily they feel they can connect with you, and most
importantly of all, how much they feel that you “get them” and their
experience. We all want to be heard or seen, and when you can give
someone that, you’re immediately on their team.
Quick Communication Tip
Prepping the Surface
When painting, the
more we prep the surface, the better our finished product will be. This
takes a little extra time in the beginning, but serves us well in to the
future with more long-lasting and better looking results.
In de-fusing a situation that is headed into a defensive, non-productive
area, questions can feel less attacking than statements. These questions
must be more designed to prep the surface than to probe it. Probing can
be interpreted as attacking as well, so we need to be cautious here.
Asking “what the heck is wrong with you?” is not likely to disperse a
forming conflict. Asking “is something bothering you?” is much more
likely to place you on the same side as the other person, building
rapport and “team” dynamics.
When you perceive an attack, ask the other person for clarification in
the most innocuous and genuinely interested manner. You might find out
that there is no attack. You might get clarification on why they feel
the need to attack you. Either way, you learn more about what’d in their
hand than they learn about yours. That’s how you play to win.
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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