Published on Charity Village
Date: 27th November 2019
Intellectually, we all know what makes communication effective: eye contact, tone of voice, using “I” messages, paraphrasing and active listening. You get the picture.
Enlightened Communication is not so much about the mechanics of our delivery, but rather the essence and energy that fuels it.
It means we consider the qualities and characteristics that make enlightened communication possible. And we also become aware of the many ways the ego can interfere with our expression of enlightened communication.
You can likely recall a time when you were face to face with someone. They were doing all the “right” things, and yet, while their words were sweet, you felt the sting. Something felt off. This is where Enlightened Communication comes in. It is about aligning energetically with the purpose of our message.
Enlightened Communication considers the elements of authenticity, personal truth, and the potential impact on the receiver. It involves clarity and connection. In moments of estrangement, communication will always be more effective, and ultimately enlightened, if we can honor the role of connection with another when conflict is present. If we disconnect, we lose our capacity for enlightened communication, as well as any chance we might have to create transformative relationships ~ something we’ll explore in greater depth in an upcoming article.
Let’s break down a few of the key ingredients in the practice of enlightened communication.
One of the most powerful things you can do is set intentions for your interactions with others. Of course, we don’t always know ahead of time when certain conversations will emerge, so it pays to have clear general intentions about how you want to communicate. Is it about the connection? Is it most important to you that your communication be efficient? Perhaps you really value clarity and transparency. Whatever you come up with, consider how you interpret that quality and, more importantly, how you embody it.
When you are faced with potentially challenging or conflicted conversations, intention setting is even more important. Take the time to reflect on what has happened that led to the current situation. Let yourself become aware of what you are feeling and spend some time listening to the emotional messages that emerge. Soothe yourself and allow feelings to flow. One of the most emotionally responsible things you can do is care for your feelings prior to sharing them with others. When we avoid that step, we unintentionally, subject others to our unfiltered emotional energy, which not only creates further disharmony, but can also leave us feeling disempowered.
Let’s talk about compassion fatigue. First of all, the feeling and expression of compassion cannot possibly make us tired. Compassion comes from love and love does not ~ contrary to popular opinion ~ hurt. Lack of self-compassion, however, is utterly exhausting. Intellectually, this may seem very obvious. And yet, so many Service Providers suffer from the impact of overextension and poor capacity to receive. Service Providers seem hardwired to focus on the needs of others sometimes overlooking their own. Having a strong capacity to receive means you are aware of and open to having your needs and desires met. You might know this to be true, and yet, somewhere there is a disconnect between what we understand cognitively and how we respond through action when we are convinced that someone else needs us more than we need ourselves.
Compassion does not involve overextension and the imposition of ourselves into another’s life. None of us knows what’s best for others. Compassion does not do for others what they must do for themselves. Compassion does however, stand with and walk through an experience with another while holding the vision of wholeness and the spirit of hope.
What do you think? Does respect need to be earned?
Perhaps, you’ve had times in your life where you felt that you had lost respect for someone because of something they did that you disagreed with. But respect has nothing to do with agreement or approval. In fact, genuinely respectful communication demonstrates an appreciation for the inherent worth and dignity of all.
I know how tough it can be to remain respectful when we feel disrespected, but this is one of those moments that requires a steadfast commitment to the energy we wish to embody, no matter what anyone else is doing. Disrespect is not an energy we ever need to match and it holds little strength as an ingredient of communication. In fact, it is in moments of conflict with another that we must call upon our vast capacity for respect should we ever hope to experience resolution.
No matter how hard we try, haven’t we all thrown stones from our glass houses? Consider for a moment what the sensation of judgment feels like, whether when directed at you or someone else. Where do you notice it in your body and how would you describe its sensation?
Most of us have been trained to practice without judgment, as though there is some pristine place of arrival where our biases and prejudices no longer arise. I have found this to be untrue ~ at least for me. But there is a big difference between noticing the uprising of judgment and unleashing it on others.
Instead it can be more accessible to transcend judgment, as opposed to resisting it. Practicing acceptance and curiosity are essential in moving past judgmental moments. It is next to impossible to judge and strive to understand in the same breath. If I can accept you as you are ~ if I can accept myself as I am ~ I actually open the door to deeper understanding and the possibility for transformation. I suspend my judgment long enough to allow a new perspective.
This transcendence brings us back into the moment with another and creates space in our communication for the development of relationship.
Privacy ~ yours and theirs
I used to think that transparency and authenticity meant that I had to be willing to share my truth at any moment in time. However, after finding myself in unsafe emotional places, I learned that it was more important for me to honour myself with clearer parameters. I realized that once I shared my information with another person, I no longer had control over what happened to it and where it went. No matter how trusting the relationship might be, if I was not willing to risk that then it meant that it was not the time or the place to share. There are some aspects of our experience that are meant for us alone and that doesn’t mean that we aren’t being real. It is up to us to discern that.
When someone else honours us with their precious and private material, it is our responsibility to hold it sacred. It is never our information to share. Even when seeking clinical direction or a space to debrief, we can honour privacy by following the ‘need to know” rule. Before sharing any information, reflect on your purpose for disclosing the information and what you are hoping to achieve. Only share what is relevant to the guidance you are seeking and only with those who can provide that guidance.
Language is powerful and words can uplift or tear down. Be sure to choose words that reflect what you really mean. Opt for clear and powerful language that emphasizes dignity and worth over efficiency and expedience. This creates integrity between what we believe, what we say, and how we communicate.
Focus on what your intended outcome as opposed to what you want to avoid. Organizations often spend a great deal of time and energy talking about problems and barriers at the expense of creative and visionary conversations. Aim to equalize the discussion.
Enlightened Communication is about giving and receiving
Effective communication is often transactional. I talk. You talk. Hopefully, we both listen and, ultimately, hear. Effective communication is often centered in getting our point across in socially acceptable and politically correct ways but can lack the heart-based energy that gives our words impact and makes us authentically receptive.
Enlightened communication is a holistic process. It involves all aspects of our human nature ~ physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. We bring our whole being into the interaction with a desire to be open to what we receive from the other person and genuine in what we offer in return. This enlightened approach opens the door for outcomes that neither party can see in isolation but that require the energy of the collective.
Our capacity for enlightened communication is bolstered as we spend more time in the space of self-connection. And our opportunities for self-connection are heightened as we engage in enlightened communication. These processes are intricately linked to the ability to create space for transformative relationships in which all involved have the potential for conscious evolution.
Elizabeth Bishop is the creator of The Conscious Service Approach. She regularly facilitates workshops based on the principles of the approach both online and in person. Elizabeth can be reached at www.elizabethbishopconsulting.com, on twitter at @askelizabethb, and Facebook and Linkedin at Elizabeth Bishop Consulting.