It doesn’t happen to me very often.
Just as well, because few things cause me as high levels of pain and distress as communication failure does.
We’re witnessing such strife and polarization globally. Systemic failures and the collapse of structures on just about every level. It’s never been more pressing than it is now to build bridges, learn to communicate and create synergy.
Our closer relationships and partnerships mirror what’s happening on a bigger scale, and every little step we can take to improve our connections goes a long way towards better lives for everybody on the planet.
Finding communication difficult?
Here’s what might be killing your chances at communicating effectively, and how you might make a difference.
You know how you think and feel, you know what you’re experiencing. You assume it’s obvious to others.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case.
The more intense your personal experience, the greater the danger you may assume this is obvious to another, or that someone else is having a similar experience.
Your lover/friend/partner does not necessarily understand what’s going on for you, and may not experience a similar response to a situation, even if the two of you are in it together, e.g. living in the same house, working in the same team, having the same holiday.
Best to assume less and express more.
Speak up, ask questions, exchange feedback — in detail! — or your connection may suffer from half-expressed thoughts and emotions, misunderstandings, frustration and needless separation.
Our thoughts, feelings and actions are grounded in our belief systems.
When we are clear about our values, motivations and principles and abide by them, we offer a consistency of behaviour that makes it easier for others to understand and relate to us.
Unfortunately, we don’t always make our beliefs clear. A lot of the time, we’re not quite sure what beliefs we hold ourselves, and operate unconsciously in ways that may or may not serve us.
A belief (conscious or unconscious) that whispers “men cannot be trusted” in your ear would cause you a myriad of skewed assumptions, interpretations and reactivity, most likely hindering your ability to communicate and connect in the way you’d like.
The answer? Question yourself.
Notice what’s not working and ask yourself: what belief(s) would I need to hold for this experience to manifest in my life? What “truth” is consistent with my reality?
Then listen for the answer and make a conscious choice to keep or change your beliefs. You can!
Be open and willing to allow beliefs different to your own: not everyone will agree with you on every point, but you can still find ways to bridge the differences.
Speaking with a friend or counselor who can reflect back from a more neutral perspective can be very helpful in revealing beliefs that are hiding in plain sight.
Are you worried about the consequences of speaking up? Afraid you won’t be heard, or that it’s pointless to try? Imagine you’ll reap anger, disapproval, resentment, rejection or some other unwanted response?
An honest risk assessment and priority check could be in order, here. Or you may be able to find peace in your heart, accept and forgive everything and everyone — including yourself — in which case, silence may be the obvious choice. Or maybe it’s time you found your voice.
There’s a good chance you’re suffering way more now than you will, if you get a conversation started.
And you’re denying yourself and everyone else the opportunity to gain better understanding and find solutions, better ways forward, and a better all-round experience now and in future.
Just do it: feel the fear and do it anyway.
Perhaps start with creating a better container (see below).
4. Lost in translation.
Language causes as much disconnection, as it does connection.
Differing life experiences mean that we may use the same words, but mean very different things. Not to mention those of us who just find it hard to express verbally.
We wish our partner could see how we feel in our facial expression, tone of voice, body language. We wish they would just feel us! (And feel disappointed and hurt when they don’t…)
Then, we have all those foreigners!
We’re much more used to meeting people from other countries these days, but may underestimate cultural differences, even though they play a big part in important aspects of communication such as:
- how we set boundaries
- how we express through voice and language, including body language and physical gestures
- how we expect certain behaviours in specific contexts — in other words, all the different ways in which we reach out, treat others and expect to be treated.
Is your beloved Greek just a little too loud, or too tactile, or too eager to jump the queue? Is he/she hurt and impatient when you’re quieter, want more space, or to go by the book? (This is coming from a Greek!)
The lucky ones find such differences endearing; the less fortunate suffer soul-destroying friction; most of us are somewhere in between.
Stay present, seek mutual understanding and respect, and establish healthy boundaries.
5. Poor container.
Do you feel safe in this relationship? Are emotions welcomed? Is there space for honest and transparent communication between you?
Sometimes things get out of hand, arguments may be too heated, or you just find you’ve reached an impasse.
Perhaps roles and boundaries are not clearly defined. It could be that clear communication channels have not been established, or the medium used creates more problems than it solves.
- Are you hoping or expecting the other will initiate the conversations needed to maintain peace and synergy?
- Are you relying on messaging and e-mailing, when human contact and a heart-to-heart conversation is what’s really needed?
- Are you suffering because of your definition of, and personal investment in this relationship? E.g. when you’re madly in love and imagine monogamous happiness ever after, whereas your lover sees you as one of many.
It helps to consider such factors and set about finding common ground or common intent: a principle or goal for the communication that all parties can agree to.
For example, you may create space for expressing emotions honestly; or to give each person the opportunity to express his/her differing opinion, without having to meet with arguments or resistance. (Sometimes it’s hard to do this alone: seek help, if you need it.)
You’ll feel seen, heard and acknowledged in a way that empowers you and those around you, and you’ll be well on your way to greater authenticity and empathy in your connections.
(Marriage and sacred Tantric partnerships represent powerful, alchemical crucibles for transformation and the purification of ego — but more on this another time.)
Ultimately, all relationships serve our growth.
And every relationship is sacred for this reason: an opportunity for us to learn new ways of experiencing and sharing love.
Connections may not offer you perfection; they will certainly offer you progress.
Seek the learning in every connection and every situation, and commit to receiving this fully to the best of your ability.
You’ve gained some insights and tools; now allow your mind to be guided by your heart.
And do write and share how you experience connection, relating, communication. I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. Looking to make more heart-centered connections and enjoy soulful exchange? Join the Women’s Circle Cacao Ceremony on the 29th November and Soul Mate Connections on the 9th December — both dedicated to the seat of our Soul and greatest joy: the Heart. View the Events Calendar to find out more about these and other upcoming events.
P.P.S. Prefer a more private space where you can explore connection, intimacy and relationship? Contact me for a private consultation in London or remotely (phone or Skype).