How can we open our hearts and minds to clear, transformative communication? How can we move from anger and resentment to compassion? From blocks and misunderstandings to connection and empathy? What are the skills and awareness we need to walk this path while honoring and expressing our inner truth?
These questions have been central to my own spiritual quest and are always the focus of my work as a communication coach, mediator, and teacher.
There are four steps that represents the essence of this process to me.
Listen deeply–to your own spirit and to the words and meaning of others.
Listen to your own spirit
We cannot communicate our feelings, wants, desires, frustrations to others unless we know what they are. We have to look within. Why is a comment so upsetting or irritating? Is it triggering a past hurt or our unmet expectations? What are we yearning for?
Listen to the words and feelings of another
Everyone has their own longings, their own history, their own story. Can you detach from your own story and listen to theirs? Understand what they need and want? What their wounds are?
We don’t have to agree with another or see the world as they do to listen compassionately. Having someone truly listen to us is powerful and healing even if (or especially if) they don’t say much, but just show their empathy and attention.
2. Speak your truth gently
With more understanding of ourselves and others, we can sort out what is our part and what it is we really need to tell the other person. Then we can express our feelings, positive or negative without attacking or needing to prove we’re right.
3. Embrace imperfection No one and nothing is perfect in this world. We are all perfectly human, which means we make lots of mistakes that we need to forgive ourselves and others for.
4. Let go
It is wonderful to clearly express our feelings and be heard. But, we can’t control the other person, their response, or the world. We have to let go of our expectations and our desire for a certain outcome from our conversation with them. And for our own sanity and well being, we need to let go of bitterness and resentment, which hurts our hearts and energy.
These four action steps are simple, but not easy. Each takes willingness, courage, persistence, patience and practice. It is a cyclical rather than a linear process that can deepen and enrich our lives and the lives of those around us.