Our previous issues focused on the self. Now we are looking at ourselves in relation to others. What do we bring to every conversation? Ewa Schwarz tells us “How To Avoid the Biggest Communication Mistake”. The Wise Words are from Albert Einstein, our weekly Inspiration is about hidden meaning, and finally the Love Note reminds us that love is gentle questioning of our beloved -LeadWrite.org
The Meaning is The Problem
Learning better communication involves becoming aware of the different ways in which we create additional meaning to actions and words.
When you get upset with someone for what they have said or done, you do so because in your mind, you are sure you are right about what the meaning of those actions or words are. Yet that “fact” [or meaning] is only based on your personal experiences and associations.
Your experience, while true for you, is not true for the person you are interacting with. You do not have enough information or facts about that person to judge them or to create factual meaning for them.
Your “facts” are based on your assumption that the present experience has a relationship to your past ones. Yet it does not. Each and every moment you experience is unique and only has the meaning that you give it.
Can you see how when you go into reaction over something that you are creating meaning that is not really there? You are only assuming you know the intentions of the person you are interacting with and generally speaking, our assumptions are usually wrong.
How To Stop Yourself With Awareness
When you do communicate with others, watch to see where you make assumptions about what something means to you. Watch to see how you are applying meaning out of your own past experiences and associations.
When you notice even a remote chance of this happening, take a long deep breath, step back, and stop reacting. Then ask the person you are communicating with to clarify what they mean.
This gives the other person an opportunity to describe their experience to you more clearly. Can you put yourself in that other person’s shoes even for a moment? Try to keep yourself out of the picture while you listen. What you are hearing has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with the other person. What kind of experiences did they have in their past that influences how they communicate now? What kind of fears or concerns might they have that motivate their words and actions?
When you look at other people in this way you develop a deeper understanding of others and most importantly, of yourself. In other words, you develop more compassion. Imagine being able to have an experience where you simply observe and not react. Imagine being able to see what is happening so clearly that you can grasp what motivates the other person’s behavior. You don’t have to react. If you do, you are creating meaning that is not really there.
Practice Makes Perfect: Be Curious
Practice this new type of communication with your partner, family, friends, coworkers, strangers; anyone you come into contact with. You can even practice this as you watch a movie or TV. Watch your emotional reactions to what you see or hear, identify how your interpretations are based on your past associations, and then see if you can create a different meaning for what you see.
As Sherlock Holmes once said: “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Expert online counselor, coach, and spiritual teacher who provides personalized and interactive online counseling services with advice that’s private, affordable, and most importantly, creates solutions.
Reprinted from http://www.onlinecounseling.org/May2008.htm. Retrieved July 1st, 2015.