As we continue to get information from multiple and myriad sources it can be challenging to make sense of things. Clarity is not the goal now, yet the first step in the direction of clarity is greater consciousness around the words you choose and what you say and how you say it to whom and when. That you do have control over. That shapes your everyday experiences at home and out in the world.
How do we use our words and communication to move into greater tolerance and compassion bringing about greater harmony at home and wherever we find ourselves?
First, SLOW—IT– DOWN. When you hear another’s words, before you automatically reply, take them in, literally the whole person along with the words they are using. What do they bring up for you, what do you feel? Are you in the present moment or caught up in the past or non-existent future? If you pause before replying you may break an old chain reaction that can lead to disharmony and unhappiness. These days we may feel irritated and annoyed more than usual, so we’re provided even more opportunities to seek understanding before trying to make ourselves understood, one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.
Seek first to understand means I see you and respect your existence. AND I see myself and respect my existence. I may not understand, agree or even know your story or why you say or share what you do. I may even believe you are causing great harm. But if I can check into my own feelings and suspend my judgement for just a moment, I may be able to see you as a human being, doing the best you can, doing what you believe to be true for you, given what you know and where you’ve come from. At this slower pace and from this more conscious space, I am now able to listen with a more open heart and mind. And that kind of listening is the ultimate key to all peace and harmony.
After consciously listening, what do I really need to give voice to? How can I stay in my truth and more directly say how I am feeling, what I am thinking and why while avoiding blaming, shaming and otherwise putting someone immediately on the defensive….and risk losing the connection my listening helped me create? If I want something, how can I ask for it directly and clearly without demanding or commanding? All of these are the elements of conscious communication.
Eventually, through practice and patience I hope to communicate in a non-threatening way that opens up the opportunity for you to see my humanness as I’ve attempted to see yours. That’s how we move beyond mere tolerance to greater harmony between ourselves, each other and the world.
Ask yourself, who can I practice this with now? Where in my life can I respect, listen, suspend judgement, then inquire about another’s experience before voicing and sharing my own?