As a child and family therapist working in the foster care system, I noticed how challenging it was for individuals to communicate during times of rapid change. Fear and uncertainty would tend to bring out the worst in the human experience. Egos would attack other egos and communication became very ineffective.
Many of us on this planet are currently experiencing change and uncertainty as never before. No matter how spiritually evolved we are, there are times when our human interactions become very challenging. We may engage in old behaviors propelled by our egos. It can be a very humbling experience when we catch ourselves acting out in unloving ways as we try to sooth our bruised egos. We all want to communicate in loving ways, yet sometimes we become unconscious as we try to keep ourselves safe in what feels like a very unsafe world. How can we communicate more effectively during challenging times?
The following seven nuggets are ways to increase conscious communication in the moment:
1. When engaging in face-to-face interactions, it may be helpful to pay attention to our bodies. Many of us can feel our third chakras being attacked by butterflies when our egos are getting ready to take charge. Taking a deep breath before speaking, while silently asking for help from the Universe can be very beneficial. Everything has the potential to shift. We are then able to speak from our Higher Selves rather than our small selves, as we remember who we really are.
2. When engaging in interactions with people who know exactly how to push our buttons, we must bring ourselves back to the moment the minute they enter our energy fields. Practicing gratitude as much as possible as we remember the bumper sticker, "Mean People are Suffering" can be very beneficial. Sometimes we can arrange to have limited contact with these people. Yet if they are in the business arena, we may be called to communicate with them regularly. Conscious breathing before speaking and limiting conversations can help promote positive interactions with button pushers.
3. Family communications of any sort during stressful times may need to be short, sweet, and to the point. If we must communicate something that we know may not be received with love, it may be beneficial to practice gratitude throughout the discussion. Reminding people that you love them unconditionally and appreciate their goodness contributes to effective communication.
4. Practice firm boundaries with compassion. Sometimes no matter how positive we attempt to be, some people will continue to test our egos. In this case it is best to agree to disagree and change the subject or end the interaction as soon as possible.
5. When engaging in electronic communication, it may be beneficial to stop and take a little break before responding. As we bring ourselves back to the present moment, we need to remind ourselves that email and texting are void of emotion. Sometimes we have no idea what the individual on the other end really meant. Responding in a compassionate way may diffuse a potentially uncomfortable situation.Of course, further clarification may be necessary. Remembering to practice patience in the moment can increase effective communication.
6. When engaging in phone communication, it is important to remember that emotions may be misconstrued. A nervous laugh may be perceived as a lack of respect. Again, bringing ourselves back to the present moment before responding may be beneficial. In addition, it may be valuable to remember the importance of high quality listening. The old adage that we have two ears and one mouth, helps remind us to listen more and speak less.
7. Sometimes no matter how much effort we put into conscious communication, the human part of us will take over. The acronym HALT used in addictions treatment can also be applied to communication. HALT stands for: never get to Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. When our basic needs are not met, our conscious communication skills can be compromised. On those occasions, it is helpful to remember that making mistakes provides us the opportunity to develop compassion for others. Practicing forgiveness in the moment increases positive communication. Every time we have a human interaction, there is the potential for a gift. When we are able to rise above our small selves and access our Higher Selves, we all contribute to the evolution of the planet.