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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)