“Everyone please take their seats. Class is starting now.”

Class!  Class!  Put away your books for a few minutes.  Today we are going to discuss “The Art of Communication.”  Yes, Yes,  Joey, I know we discussed it last week.  However, this week we will talk about it from a different angle. 

How many of you know how to effectively communicate?  How many of you are comfortable with your communication skills?  How many times have you been A) afraid to speak your truth, B) unable to effectively engage the other humans to which your truth was addressed or C) lacking in the wisdom to share appropriately?

Yes, all of us should raise our hands.  Communication is an art, Class, and we are here on Earth to learn it.  We don’t have to learn it, Melissa.  We can stumble ahead, plowing the fields of our relationships, planting seeds, tearing up weeds…or we can contemplate the ingredients which make a good Communication Pie.

Coffee cup conversation

1.  Speaking confidently.  Not being afraid to share our truth.  Oh my goodness, Class, this is a big one.  Your teacher is going to confess that this has been the most challenging part of the Pie for her.  I’ve had the most difficult time learning how to confidently and unabashedly and fearlessly Speak My Truth. 

At age nine, I knew that the rest of the world understood something that I did not know.  They knew what to say.  Everything I said felt wrong, inappropriate, awkward.  Totally self-conscious, I grew more and more silent, except around a couple close friends.  By seventh grade, I basically stopped speaking to everyone except those more shy. 

At age fifteen, the self-imposed shell began to crack and a little confidence grew.  Outgoing behavior began to assert itself.  Bit by bit, encounter by encounter, self-expression grew.  Another huge opening occurred at age thirty.  Somewhere around age 50, upon discovering the Wonderful World of Blogging, it all came together.  The first blog I wrote caused extreme discomfort, crazy fears and deep humiliation.  It was painful to reveal myself to the world.  What if anyone disagreed, heaven forbid?

Guess what?  People agreed, they disagreed, they praised, they argued, they said whatever they wanted to say.  It was OK.  It was more than OK.  A public confidence sprouted.  The fear would return each morning I turned on the email–but it became less over time.  Something inside consolidated.  It was OK to speak one’s truth.  OK to speak it confidently.  It was OK.

Thoughtful communication?

2.  Engaging with other humans in relationship.  The give-and-take of communication.  This is where you dance with your own truth without giving it away.  How we humans struggle with this one!

It is such a challenge, to learn the dance of Opinions.  Our heart must remain open and engaged and present.  To hear what another has to say…to have the courage to express our truth in a different way…to change our truth in relation to the new truth which has been revealed.

To be able to change perspectives without losing our center.  To keep our inner authenticity even as opinions change.  To recognize that the Other person’s opinion is equally valid.  To not let go of your personal knowing in the wake of another’s perhaps more charismatic presentation of their truth. 

There are four parts to this communication dance:  a)  maintaining your own center and truth as the wave of another’s opinion looks like it’s going to drown your opinion,  b) having the fluidity to travel to the other person’s perspective and recognize it fully and c) allowing the two different opinions to co-exist without going crazy and d) having the wisdom to integrate the differing opinions, perhaps even birthing something new.

Could we have said this in a kinder more thoughtful way?

3)  Embracing the wisdom to share appropriately.  Ahhh…a biggee!  Yes, class?  How many have struggled with this?  How many like to shoot their mouth off like a machine gun, without thoughtful attempts at peace?  How many of us insist upon spontaneity at all costs without discernment, discrimination and awareness of the largest possible view? 

(We have all been guilty of communicating in a less than wise manner.  Do not contemplate this lecture with feelings of shame.  We have all been paddling in less-that-thoughtful canoes at times.)

How do we pull of the Amazing Challenging Feat of communicating wisely and efficiently and fearlessly? 

I am afraid I cannot tell you, Class.  Each one of us must consider the three aspects of communication and watch them as they arise.  We must notice when communication succeeds and when it fails.  Only a lifetime of attempts and failures will get us an A in this class.  Teacher included.

Teacher did experience a moment last night when she felt elated in a communication episode at a local meeting.  Teacher had an opinion which disagreed with everyone else on the board.  In the past, she might have felt defensive, scared, frightened, angry or annoyed.  But you know what happened last night?  She expressed her opinion.  She listened to the opinion of other board members.  She expressed her truth and voted “nay” even though the rest of the board voted “aye”. 

And you know what was the best part?  She felt good.  She joked with all the other board members after the meeting.  She went home, fell in bed, slept the whole night and awoke still feeling peaceful and content–having expressed fully what her heart spoke.  Was it right?  Who knows?  Was in wrong?  Maybe.  But she spoke her truth confidently, with loving attention to others and perhaps with thoughtful wisdom.  No regrets.

Heaven on Earth

Class, there will be no ultimate test.  We’ll have quizzes along the way, to see how close we’re getting in this communication game.  We will succeed and fail and succeed again. I wish you all well as your next expressions arise. 

Class dismissed!  Everyone go outside the classroom and practice.  (Teacher will not be answering comments on this one.  Talk quietly among yourselves, please.)

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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23 Responses to “Everyone please take their seats. Class is starting now.”

  1. Elisa's Spot says:

    you mean communication ISN’T to get my way!?!?!

  2. Carol says:

    The trick, I think, to successful communication is to allow others to also speak their truth, to do so kindly without recriminations. I have friends with whom I can do this, and I have a friend with whom I cannot do this. Sadly, I avoid spending time with the latter friend.

  3. Reggie says:

    Gosh, another wise post from Kathy Our Teacher. <>

  4. holessence says:

    Oh, what a wonderful and unexpected class, Miss Kathy! You’re clear, concise, and articulate in your delivery style, and you use visual aids too – perfect!

  5. Sybil says:

    Oh dear, teacher Kathy is talking about ME with #3. I am sadly bristling with opinions and the overwhelming compulsion to share same. And of course I am quite convinced of the correctness of my opinion.
    I have no problem speaking in public — which for the dear, dear listeners — is a pity.

    Sheepishly yours.

    Just sign me “mouthy in Eastern Passage”

  6. Kathy says:

    Teacher said she wouldn’t comment–teacher should be packing–but she is watching Dances with Wolves for the third time in many years. 1) Elisa, part of the communicatory challenge is to reveal your way. Only part. 2) Carol, yes it’s interesting how we avoid time with those whom which we can’t communicate without recriminations. Perhaps wisdom fits in here. 3) Reggie, We are ALL wise teachers, depending on our subject of communication. 4) Teacher thanks you, Laurie. 5) Interesting how we all have different challenges, Sybil!

  7. john says:

    I wish I was in said meeting last night

  8. jeff vanderhorst says:

    So what I’m hearing you say is engage brain before putting mouth in gear? What a concept! that last pic “Heaven on Earth” looks suspiciously like it is inscribed in Arvon slate. how appropriate indeed.

  9. Kathy says:

    John, I am afraid you would mostly find meetings in Arvon quite uneventful… Jeff, you are so right–it is a piece of slate from the Arvon Slate Quarry. Let me see if I can find the blog which went with it.http://centria.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/the-afternoon-before-the-frost-killed-most-the-garden/

  10. Marianne says:

    Congratulations, Kathy! This is huge. At least, for me it is. Somewhere in childhood I lost my voice. It’s been a challenge over the years. Blogging is helping. Thanks for the post.

  11. Dawn says:

    I too was a shy kid…still am somewhat. Blogging is one way of communicating…but speaking up for a belief even in the face of overwhelming opposition is even better! Congratulations!

  12. Elisa's Spot says:

    KATHY IS FLYING!!!!!!!

  13. I’ve always been shy/quiet, and still rather sit and listen than talk, BUT (since turning 40) I’m not afraid to stand up for myself and give someone a piece of my mind if necessary.

    • Elisa's Spot says:

      that seems like standing your ground…it is interesting to see how many use the word communicate to mean speak and get the desired result instead of just to get what is inside…out. (unsure why I typed on this one, just STAND your ground…shouted out at me)

  14. Robin says:

    This was interesting to read after having read another post regarding, well, it didn’t have anything to do with communication but about women of the world and a young girl’s stance and facial features representing hope for the future. It reminded me that there comes a time in most of our lives (you mentioned 9 years old which is about right for me) when we gain inhibitions and stop speaking our truth. Not that I’m one of those people who think young children speak nothing but the truth — I know better. But I remember a time of at least walking in my own truth and then having to learn how to speak and act in the truth that the world I was growing up in required of me as a way of either moving ahead or protecting myself.

    It seems to me we have to unlearn all of that, and do unlearn it, as we grow older and realize what’s important, what’s not, and pare things down in life.

  15. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I love what you say….”expressing what your heart spoke”. And how you described the feelings that followed.

    Speaking my truth has been one of my big challenges lately….I keep getting tangled up in the words of it. Speaking my mind has been somewhat easier 🙂

    Maybe it’s not really about words? Maybe we don’t have to always speak it? As long as we do our best to live it? As you always inspire us to do.

  16. flandrumhill says:

    Over a decade ago I joined a Toastmasters group. I can’t say enough about how much it helped me to feel more relaxed and aware while engaged in communicating with others. Practice is key to success in everything we do. I think it gets easier as we get older because by the time we’re ‘mature’ we have more practice behind us.

  17. Kathy says:

    It’s interesting how many of us have had issues of some sort around communication. Aging seems to equate in more confidence for quite a few of us. Thank you for reading. I love to analyze things like communication. Haven’t really done much of this kind of blogging on this blog.

  18. Barbara Rodgers says:

    “Dances with Wolves” was my mother’s favorite movie, and the last one she saw. She rarely cried, but she did over this story.

    “…allowing the two different opinions to co-exist without going crazy…” I love the way you phrased this. I’m usually pretty good about this but the thing that gets me sometimes is when I’m “paddling in less-that-thoughtful canoes at times.” On a few rare occasions when nobody in the family was listening to my “reasonable” observations or requests, I have been known to resort to melodramatic lectures to assert my opinion or demand!

    Congratulations on graciously holding your own at the meeting! I’m proud of you! Love the slate sign – a nature inspired garden ornament!

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, thank you for your kind thoughtful response–not melodramatic at all. Smiling…Dances with Wolves is a movie to make one cry. Love to you from California this morning.

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