The way people are communicating, both online and in person, is becoming more aggressive and more divisive. A lot of people believe that proving the rightness of their points of view will create the results they desire rather than doing what would be functional. As a result, they are listening to each other less and simply repeating themselves in the same way, as they desperately attempt to convince people of their point of view. Yet they only achieve frustration, without creating the result they are looking for.
There can be a different way, which is kinder and more inclusive. This approach tends to lead to those involved feeling better and also tends to create more successful, more expansive outcomes, even if these differ somewhat from what you originally intended.
I’ll use this perspective to highlight some of the ways people are choosing to communicate, the different styles they adopt, as well as the pros and cons of each. As you read the various communication styles, I suggest that you ask yourself some questions. The fundamental question is, “What is true for me here?” Broadly speaking, in each example, one way of communicating has more control and more logic while the other is more fluid and relies on creating genuine connections with others.
Being interesting or being interested?
A lot of people aim to be interesting, thinking that they will be able to win people over and get what they want or to entertain them. What tends to happen is that the other person feels left out and overlooked. So, even if you manage to push through the outcome that you desired, it may be that the other person is quietly resisting or becoming bored. Frequently, this resistance results in future problems.
In contrast, when you are interested, you are focussed on the other person and what they are saying. By asking them questions and actively listening to their responses, the other person can feel heard and understood, something I believe we all desire. You may also feel as if you have lost control and your familiar way of doings things. However, as this is much more likely to reveal what the other person desires, it can be more productive, resulting in less conflict further on the line. The person is grateful for you and may be drawn to offer you something in return, which can result in what you desire.
Hearing the words or perceiving the energy?
You have probably had the experience of someone committing to doing something, whilst feeling something isn’t quite right. Then later, not feeling surprised when they don’t follow through on what they said they were going to do.
Although in our logical society, we don’t tend to talk about it like this. What has happened is that you perceived the energy of the other person and knew it was not congruent with what they said they were going to do.
Functioning only from others’ words means we stay in a predictable, logical reality where we can record and “prove” what people have said. By including what we perceive in their energy, we move into different territory and can get a sense from where they are functioning and what is true for them, even if we cannot “prove” it in a traditional way.
To be in this second space, we have to be willing to give up control, to let go of our expectations of how we think our discussions should turn out and subsequently, be willing to trust our instincts. As a result, instead of reacting to the situation, we can move on to create more possibilities.
Preparing or thinking on your feet?
People often like to prepare what they are going to say and not vary from this script, even when they notice the other person is resistant or unable to hear what they are saying.
The alternative to this is to have an idea of what you would like to say whilst paying attention to the other person or people. How are they responding? Are they paying attention, or are they bored? Based on these cues, you adjust your words and the ideas you present.
Using the latter approach requires that you be really present and alert. You also have to be willing to relinquish strict control of the direction of the conversation in favour of paying attention to what the other person is saying. The advantage to this is that you may achieve mutually desired results.
Making people feel good or making people feel?
Some people will focus on making another person feel good whilst others will be more interested in making the other person feel – and by this, I mean giving space for the other person to think and feel the way they do without reacting nor resisting, while tuning in with that other person, sensing where they are and responding accordingly.
What can be difficult for people with this approach is that they perceive it to take more time and effort, as well as requiring skills which they don’t believe they possess. The benefits of really being present with someone is that they not only feel heard and understood, they get clarity and a sense of ease. This genuine connection is much more likely to create the outcomes you desire.
So, what is true for you?
What I see is that by being willing to sense the energy as well as hear the words during interactions, and by being willing to be present with what is unfolding rather than following a predetermined course of action, something greater can be created. If this appeals, I suggest asking some simple questions before you meet the other person: “Do I have an agenda here, or am I open to possibilities? What words can I say that this person can hear? What possibilities are available here that I have not even considered yet?” and allow yourself to receive the information, to get a sense of what will be a contribution to you and the other person and what you desire.
What if your way to communicate could be more efficient, easy and create more of the success you desire by including the reality of the other person, what you sense at the energy level and by asking simple questions?
Edith Paul is a Life Coach, inspirational speaker and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® specialty programs, including Right Voice for You. A committed educator and compassionate community volunteer, Edith has been teaching Mathematics and English to adults for more than a decade and has been an Al-Anon support representative in her local community. She travels internationally, extending an invitation to the curious to trust their internal knowing.