Connect my headphones into your heart.
I hear the beat of your blood,
I feel the flow of your love.
Let us listen together,
As love's harmony manifests in our lives.
The way you express yourself teaches the world who you are. This expression has a major impact on the quality of your connections with others. Quality connections create productive discussions, resolutions, relationship patterns, and more. Destructive connections create destructive outcomes (e.g. misunderstandings, arguments, fractured relationships, unhealthy patterns). Take an inventory of your intentions, thoughts, and emotions. Intend to express yourself in ways that promote mutually beneficial connections. Choose goals aligned with healthy connections.
On this page you will find information about the following communication skills:
- Choosing Intentions, Thoughts, and Emotions to Best Drive Your Expressions
- Maintaining Focus
- Attention and Clear Expressions
- Respectful Disagreement
Please note: The Communication Basics, Communication Skills Part 1, 3, and 4 pages provide additional information about communication skills. To a degree, Communication Skills Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 build on the previous "Part".
Choosing Intentions, Thoughts, and Emotions to Best Drive Your Expressions
Your thoughts about another person (their actions, words, appearance, demographics, etc) determine how you interact with him/her. If your thoughts of others come from your love, self-control, and self-confidence, you will tend to interact in ways that create a sense of satisfaction and purpose. However, if you choose thoughts that produce fear, opposition, or anxiety in you, your interactions will most likely reflect this and create a sense of less control in the situation.
In order to have thoughts and emotions that create healthy interactions, intend to see others through eyes of love. Know they too desire to be in loving, healthy, productive connections. If the other person does not appear loving, think of their love as hidden (by fear, resentment, confusion, etc). Connect to your sense of internal peace (despite the level of chaos in the environment). Your emotions are dependent on your perspective (thoughts, attitudes, and judgments) and your ability to connect with internal peace. Choose thoughts of self confidence, and self control; choose thoughts of love for yourself and the other person. Then connect with the other person to the degree you are able to extend loving intentions. Your ability to extend love does not depend on the other's ability to reciprocate. Your ability to extend love depends on your ability to anchor your expression in loving intentions for connection.
What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.
Focusing on your responsibilities in the communication (e.g. honesty, assertiveness, reason, productivity) brings you confidence and clarity. However, if you focus on what you cannot control (e.g. the other's attitude, perspective, judgment, mood, honesty), you may miss out on potential opportunity for a constructive interaction.
You are responsible for how you see the world (your perspective) and your attitude towards it. These responsibilities have an enormous influence on your interactions. Practice the following recommendations:
- Look for peace and unity: you will find it, even when others do not. Expose it through your interactions and example (e.g. through anecdotal information and through your style of interacting). Value compassion, honesty, confidence, assertiveness, and peace for healthier, stronger, more honest connections - despite challenging interactions.
- Work to understand the other's situation and reasoning. You will have more information in the exchange.
- If you judge the other, and are not open to understanding his/her reasoning, you will have a faulty understanding of the information being expressed to you. This can leave you feeling confused, alone, and/or separate.
- Do not spend energy trying to control the thoughts of someone who does not want your perspective, even if you believe you know what is best for him/her. Be careful - what you try to control can control you.
- Reason and peace are more powerful than aggression and confusion. If you do not accept this, you will fear the aggression and confusion of others. Fear can limit and control you, often leading to a self fulfilling prophesy. Your fear can fuel aggression and confusion in your own expression.
- Connect with your internal sense of peace by releasing unhealthy attitudes (blame, resentment, judgment, etc.). If you hold onto thoughts of being harmed or not loved in ways you desire, you block your own sense of peace. Even if you must create boundaries to maintain your safety (physical or emotional), your heart can hold deep love for the other.
- Intend to accept yourself as you are - and as you grow. Discover and embrace encouraging beliefs about yourself. As you learn about your unique identity, free of judgment and measurement, you discover your healthy/true self. As your identity unfolds, your self expression connects you to others in ways that are supportive and empowering. You will create the relationships you desire.
Know the goal, intent, and/or purpose of an interaction. Although this knowledge may not be stated, either party must know the common focus. Without focus, communication can be frustrating, confusing, and misunderstood.
Signs of vague communication are:
- lacking clarity about what you or the other is saying
- going off track from the purpose/point of the communication
- talking about more than one issue or topic at a time
- attempting to problem solve while emotional pain is being expressed
- attacking a person instead of attacking a problem
- bringing up past problems
- trying to 'win'
- jumping to conclusions
Be flexible enough to make communication adjustments for increasing the focus. This will bring more efficiency, clarity, and understanding. In this way, problems can be resolved and relationships healed.
- Be clear and specific about what you want to say.
- When speaking, stay focused on what you want to say/your point.
- If you get off track, use "I Messages" and "Reflective Listening" to get back on track.
Attention and Clear Expressions
Clear communication promotes clear understandings. Express yourself using communication skills. Intend to embrace the other's expression to the best of your ability. To embrace another's expression, you must listen with the intention to understand him/her as clearly as possible:
- Pay attention to whether there may be a larger expression beyond the person's words. If this may be the case, ASK - DON'T ASSUME.
- If something is unclear, ASK - DON'T ASSUME.
- Listen for any desire the other is expressing.
- Do not jump to conclusions. You are not a mind reader.
- Do not disagree with another's statements before being clear about what is being said.
- Do not interrupt.
Disagreement is a normal occurrence in relationships. People disagree because two or more differing perspectives meet. This can be an opportunity to learn about the other's point of view and experience. Open your mind to learn about his/her perceptions, ideas, feelings, thoughts, experiences, and history. Learning about another's differences expands your understanding of the other person, and of the world. Even in your disagreement, your desire to learn about the other person illuminates your respect, concern, and care for him/her. In this way, even a disagreement can nourish the relationship.
Communication skills support the respectful expression of differences. Respectful disagreement is a sharing of information. Sharing ideas may reveal a way different perspectives can come together to reveal a more comprehensive view of the information. (Two points of view may give a broader picture of the overall topic being viewed/discussed.)
Engage in respectful disagreement:
- Acknowledge and clarify disagreements before they grow into conflict. This may take initiative on your part. Do not wait for the other to make the first move.
- When conflict enters into a disagreement, focus on the issue rather than on personalities.
- Stay in the present. Do not allow past conflict to intervene and impede on what you are trying to resolve. If other disagreements need to be addressed, now is not the time.
- Avoid unnecessary conflict by clarifying what each person is trying to say.
- Respect the other person's desire to express their views fully. You may learn something you did not know. Do not interrupt or contradict.
- Control your desire to get the upper hand. Do not defend yourself. Do not build your position by attacking the other. This would produce unnecessary conflict.
- Be patient.
- Be concrete and specific. Do not expect the other person to read your mind.
- Focus on the topic; do not attack or judge the other person. Do not resort to name-calling or bullying.
- Use self-control. Do not be aggressive, intimidating, threatening, or forceful.
- Use "I Statements"; do not use "You Statements".
- Respect and appreciate your differences. Do not insist you must think or feel the same ways.
- Do not blame the other for how you think or feel. Take responsibility for yourself.
- Be honest.
- Do not bring in a biased third party for support.
- Express disappointment without nagging, complaining, or pouting.
- If tension is building, warn the other you may need a time-out. Do not walk away without stating a beneficial intent ("I need to take time to gather my thoughts and feelings", "I need to step away and calm down, so I am better able to focus, discuss, express", etc.). Please note: if you initiate a time-out, it is your responsibility to resume the discussion.
- Ask for clarification. Do not assume you know.
- Speak only for yourself. Do not try to represent the other's thoughts or feelings.
- Recognize your blind spots. Do not assume you have all the answers.
- Strive for mutual understanding. Do not shut out the other's point of view. Do not try to 'win'.
- If appropriate, reach for a compromise.
- Try to agree to end a disagreement you no longer want to continue. If needed, arrange to discuss it again later.
Communicating about disagreements in unhealthy ways often leads to arguments. Arguments are often oppositional and promote offensive and defensive attitudes. Arguments do not tend to create trust and consideration. If you want to influence someone's ideas, do not argue. Share ideas; respectfully discuss and disagree - you will avoid triggering feelings of defensiveness, inadequacy, aggression, and withdrawal.
Minds are changed when seeing a situation or problem differently. This requires an open mind to new information (not a wall of defense or an attack of offense). If the other believes he/she needs to defend him/her ideas, an open mind is not likely. Be respectful, honest, and open to difference. In this way, your loving intentions are most apt to be understood.