Jouska + 4 Simple Steps = Improved Communication

images-4Have you ever held a conversation in your mind where you reviewed something from all angles, for example, asking your boss for a raise?  As you picture the meeting, you feel your heart racing, you start to sweat, you think about every rebuttal possible so that you’ll be ready with strong examples as to why you are deserving.

images-5How about playing and re-playing having that difficult conversation you’ve been postponing in your head? “If she says that, I’ll say this!” reviewing all possible angles in hopes that the conversation will be less stressful.

What you’ve been doing and physiologically experiencing is called Jouska.

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Improve Your Communication in 5 Steps

We have spent years learning how to read, write, and speak; yet what about listening? What training have we received that teaches us to deeply understand another human being and to be an exceptional listener?

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Keys to an Effective Relationship – Part II

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Communication….the next frontier. This is the voyage to understand and improve communication……. .to seek strange new ideas and thoughts…to boldly go where no one has gone before!

imagesOkay, I’ve been looking for a way to get my geek on and throw a Star Trek reference into a post since Leonard Nimoy died earlier this month. Man, I loved watching re-runs of Star Trek’s first generation in the 1970’s! Illogical? Yes, but that was part of the fun. I loved Mr. Spock’s highly used phrase: live long and prosper.

Communication, according to Webster’s dictionary, (hear me out!) is the “act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, and feelings to someone else.” I don’t mean to bring in dry information such as dictionary meanings to loose you so early on in this post; I do it purely to solidify the depth of how important communication is to our relationships.

images-4When we think about it, relationships are built, grown, and die because of our communication. This is why we need to constantly be focused on how our communication lands on others. Last week we reviewed a paradigm shifting quote by John Wallen: “We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their impact.” So how do we ensure our message is being received as intended and we are making the desired impact?

To effectively communicate we need to be self-aware of what we bring to each conversation. The more self-aware we are the more we are able to manage our own behavior and chosen words to convey the intended impact.

Being self-aware includes an understanding of our personality, personal values, habits, and emotional responses. A few of these we reviewed in previous posts yet we have not yet touched on the importance of our habits and emotions.

We all have habits that can either enhance or detract from how we communicate. Two ways to understand these are to: 1) be present – observe yourself during conversations and; 2) ask for feedback from those you know will be honest with you. For example you may have a habit of filling in gaps during a conversation with ah’s and um’s. Or you may have a habit of speaking so quickly others cannot keep up with you. Usually we don’t know this unless we observe our own interactions or someone is kind enough to make us aware.

By stepping back from our own experience and observing what is happening during a conversation we can objectively decide on how we will respond in the future with greater confidence and finesse.

images-2Our emotions during communication can either get the best of us by overshadowing our intention or we avoid them to protect ourselves or we believe the other person. Either way we need to learn to use the messages our emotions are telling us to more effectively communicate.

Our feelings are the primary motivating source in our lives. Without acknowledging our core feelings, we lose our sense of self.” – John Bradshaw

Our emotions are the driver of everything we do. Sometimes we are aware of our emotions and sometimes because of our upbringing and habits we are not. We need to learn to acknowledge our emotions and understand they are in charge of our actions. This is huge so let me say that again….our emotions are in charge of our actions. Like it or not, this is a scientific fact and the sooner we can get better at reading the messages the sooner we can discover how they can help us in our relationships.

Each emotion provides us valuable information on how our life is working. Noticing them can provide the direction we need to promote self-awareness. The better we are at recognizing them and learning to read the purpose of their message, the more authentic of a life we will live and the more true we will be to our genuine self.

brainHaving access to our emotions puts us in charge of communication rather than our feelings. We can choose to express our emotions (or not) but we will benefit from noticing them and listening to their messages. If you have difficultly (like most of us!) try these practices to help get in touch:

  • Understand what triggers your emotions. Notice what happened before you felt it. Make a list of these triggers to identify patterns. This will help you to manage the feeling in the future and to ensure your intended impact while communicating is clear.
  • Ask a trusted person to share how they experience you and your emotions. Use this clarity to help you recognize and feel your emotions; again this supports enhancing your desired communication impact.
  • If you are in a tense situation and cannot name a feeling, identify what you are feeling in your body. Focusing on that part of our body can be a powerful portal for identifying that emotion in the future.
  • Share your emotional impact with others. For example: I felt disrespected when you didn’t call after not showing up for our lunch date. Was that your intention? This practice helps us to own and articulate our feelings and clarifies our needs to others. As a side note – this should be stated in an open and non-judgemental method.

Next week we’ll review another segment on keys to an effective relationship; The power of understanding another person’s perspective.

“Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candor.” – Tom Hanks

Keys to an Effective Relationship – Part I

I enjoy reading, researching, and learning why people think, act, and behave the way they do. It’s an itch that never get’s the satisfaction of getting fully scratched! So in my attempt to scratch an itch regarding relationships, I’ve discovered that one of the keys to success is to have open, honest, and clear communication with our significant others, co-workers, families, friends, and neighbors. We need to use channel 2 listening, challenge our own thinking, be open to sharing our deep thoughts and feelings, and to be open to hearing differing opinions.

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imagesSo many of our woes in relationships are caused by our interactions within a relationship. Do we ever stop to think: What role did I play when communication went sideways? Did I allow my emotions to narrow my thinking and to slap my blinders on or even steal my intelligence? Did I make assumptions? And if I did, did I gain clarification that I really understood the other person’s perspective? Was I able to remove bias and past history from the conversation? Did I react with silence or verbal shots to state my displeasure with the other person? Okay, I’ll stop…you get the point!

After you read this quote by John Wallen regarding communication; please take a moment to let his message wash over you and consider the meaning behind his words. When I read this in context with some deep learning about effective relationships it really challenged my thinking.

We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their impact.”

This quote shook my understanding of the effect our communication has on others to its foundation. We judge another’s communication by the impact it has on us. We judge our communication by the intention of what we believe we conveyed. Wow!

To own that we create the impact we have on others is a huge paradigm shift for most of us. Judging another’s impact and our intention is like comparing apples to oranges. Both are pieces of fruit but they are very different. We need to accept that we create our interpretations, attributions, and feelings while communicating; they belong to us and reside inside of us – not others.

imagesIf we truly care about the people in our lives we owe it to them to get better at managing conflict and difficult conversations. I am guilty of not being so great at this. I have a tendency to allow emotion to narrow my thinking, not gain clarity of the other’s perspective, making assumptions based on past interactions, and to revert to silence so that I don’t say something I might regret. I vow today to make a continuous effort to improve in this area!

We all have both automatic and learned responses when we communicate with others. We need to be self aware of our defenses and recognize that some of the ways we learned to communicate when we were young no longer serve us well as adults. The more we can recognize how our past influences our present, the more we can experience the here and now and make real improvements to our communication.

This week’s post got massive and very detailed! In keeping with my promise to write each week’s post within the 500 – 800 word limit, I’ll be breaking the post into several sections. Next week, we’ll review ways in which we can set up the framework to building our self-awareness in how we communicate with others.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg

Channel 2 Listening

images-1Have you ever wondered what the differences are between hearing and listening? For me hearing is a biological act of ensuring safety. We hear the sound of our dog barking which alerts us to a stranger at the door. The honking car alerts us to look out!  We hear the tick of the clock, the hum of the dishwasher but we quickly stop listening because we label it as noise. Hearing is performed mostly in our sub-conscious.

When we listen we engage our brain to connect with others; we are able to obtain a deeper understanding of another’s views, values, thoughts, and dreams. When we actively listen, we tap into our senses; we can feel, see, and at times taste what the other person is sharing. You know what I mean…your mouth waters when someone shares a detailed story about a great sounding meal.

Listening is a conscience effort that takes focus and hard work but the payoff is immeasurable!!!

imagesThere is an analogy called channel 1 and channel 2 listening which helps us to understand the power of deep listening.

Channel 1 listening is when we listen to respond – I’ve also heard it called STAN listening (Sh*t, That, Ain’t Nothin’!)  Most of us practice channel one listening within our career and our relationships. We listen so that we can tell our own story, perspective, or opinion. We all know people who when we are done speaking they share a bigger more inflated story to trump ours.

Channel 2 listening is very different from channel 1 listening. Channel 2 is empathic listening.

Did you know that 55% of our communication is conveyed through our body language, 38% through the tone of our voice, and only 7% of communication is the actual words we speak. That means that 93% of all communication is exchanged non-verbally! The first time I heard these stats I thought to myself so that’s why Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus! 🙂 If we aren’t good at reading these queues we may be missing some of the intended message. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.

images-2Channel 2 listening is the ability to consciously be aware of our own bias’ and judgments; to be present by mentally removing distractions around us. It is maintaining eye contact, keeping an open mind, and not jump to conclusions as someone is talking. It is also the ability to maintain a curious mindset so our questions can continue dialogue and deepen our understanding of what the other person is intending to convey.

One of the most sincere forms of respect a person can give is to actually listen to what another person has to say.  I believe this is true.

Join me in giving the gift of channel 2 conscience listening with every interaction. 

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