Are YOU Communicating Effectively?
Life is relationship and the quality of our relationships will be hugely influenced if not defined by the quality of our communication. Relationship is an exchange of energy, so our communication with others takes place at many ‘energetic levels’ – physical, mental and spiritual being the main three. Communicating effectively whereby we don’t just send the other a message but where we build, nurture, empower and nourish the relationship itself is helped with an awareness of the main principles of relational communication.
The Principle of Right Attitude
Our attitude is the foundation upon which our communication with others will be built. Attitude begins with the first thought that we create the moment that we awaken in the morning. Is that thought an ‘I have to’ thought or an ‘I want to’ thought? For many of us, whose workplace is the first destination after breakfast, it can be easy and somewhat habitual to create the ‘I have to get up and go to work’ thought. In so doing we create an attitude of reluctance signaled by a definite absence of enthusiasm. In fact we have not yet realized that anytime we say we ‘have to’ to do anything we are, in that moment, living our life reluctantly. If a day of working with others is met with reluctance then every exchange throughout that day, even those with whom we like to talk, will be permeated with our ‘have to’ attitude.
Some however, awaken with and meet the day with a ‘want to’ thought that can be encapsulated with one word… YES! When daily life begins with a YES even those whom we may prefer not to connect with will be on the receiving end of an enthusiastic and energizing attitude. So are you beginning the day with a reluctant ‘have to’ or an enthusiastic ‘want to’ attitude? It’s our first and probably most significant choice of our entire day. Are you YESING people in your communication or are NOING people in your exchange of energy.
The Principle of Reciprocity
We all seem to intuitively recognize the saying ‘what you send out is what you get back’ or what goes around comes around. Yet we often miss its significance in our day-to-day relationships. If someone is throwing negative and grumpy energy at us through their communication there is a good chance that we may be getting our own back. An awareness of this ‘principle of reciprocity’, sometimes known as the law of cause and effect, helps us to diagnose the state of any relationship. It means that if we are on the receiving end of another’s negativity we first check to see if, in our history with that person, there were any moments when we gave them negative or grumpy energy. If we value the creation of a harmonious and positive atmosphere then we will start to ensure that we end any negative reciprocity from our side, knowing that whatever we do send to the other will eventually return. We may however need to be patient!
This is where leadership emerges in all relationships. ‘Relationship’ is the dance of life and as the old saying goes it ‘takes two to tango’. Every dance has a leader and the leader sets the tone by establishing the level and quality of the exchange. The leader can receive the negativity of the other and, even when it’s ‘personal’, they have the capacity to return a positive energy thereby ensuring any cyclical process of negative exchanges is either broken or simply not established. Needless to say the underlying attitude of a leader is not a ‘have to’ but a very definite ‘want to’. The leader’s mantra is always YES!
The Principle of Respect
Prior to attitude and even prior to the understanding of reciprocity is the very ground on which every relationship stands or falls – respect. Perhaps the most common mistake made in almost all relationships is when we expect to get respect. And as soon as we sense that we are not being respected we become grumpy and send out the energy of anger and then wonder why the ‘other’ sends the anger back or builds a barrier around their heart. And when any anger or the subtle face of anger, which is resentment, is present there is an absence of respect and therefore almost no relationship.
It doesn’t help when we assimilate the beliefs that others have to earn our respect and that others can lose our respect and vice versa. We forget that everyone is worthy of respect because everyone is a worthwhile person. We forget that to give respect is simply to affirm the innate goodness and worth of the other and no matter what they may ‘do’ they never lose that goodness and worthiness. They only lose their awareness of it. Those who know the secret of relationship building know that when unconditional respect is giving it helps to lift the other out of any lack of self respect as well as take the relationship and therefore the communication to new heights.
The Principle of Self Responsibility
Each of these three principles is underpinned by the awareness of our personal responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings. Only when we stop projecting our ‘feeling states’ onto others i.e. mistakenly believe they are responsible for our feelings, can we maintain our respect for others. Only then can we create and radiate the highest quality of ‘attitudinal energy’ into our relationships through our words and actions. Knowing that it must come back!
An keen awareness of the power of our attitude, an understanding of the law of reciprocity, the unfailing ability to transmit unconditional respect and the absolute truth of our self responsibility all lie at the heart of relationship building and therefore the art of effective communication. They are prior to all communications skills, techniques and methods regardless of how slick and streamlined those skills may be. As the old saying goes it’s not what you say but how you say it, it’s not what you do but how you do it that will bear the sweetest fruit in the dance of life and living that we know as relationship.
Question: Which of the above principles do you notice needs to be strengthened in your relationships in general?
Reflection: Why is it so important to unconditionally respect the other?
Action: Take each principle on separate days this week and consciously check to see if your communication is being ‘shaped’ by that principle.
© Mike George 2010