4 Tips for Better Communication - Quest for Life
4 Tips for Better Communication

4 Tips for Better Communication

Have you ever thought about what you are communicating both inwardly to yourself and outwardly to other people? Do you need some tips on how to improve your communication skills? Here are my tips for more successful communication.

1. Banish the Inner Critic

Most of us have a lot of inner self talk that goes on unconsciously. In fact research shows that most people are acting out of their unconscious beliefs and judgements 95% of the time and are generally only consciously choosing what they do and say 5% of the time. When we lack awareness, we fall into habitual patterns that judge ourselves or others. We tend to react in situations instead of being able to respond from a place of calm awareness.

Many people have an inner critic that tells us that we’re not enough….not good enough, not talented enough, not patient enough, not beautiful enough, not skilled enough, not capable enough, not adventurous enough…

We can liberate ourselves from these habitual reactions if we’re consciously aware of our language and train ourselves to communicate more skilfully. There are a small group of words that keep us trapped in these habitual reactions and, if we never let these words come out of our mouths except with awareness, we’re well on the way to improving our communication skills.

2. Focus on Your LanguageIt is very helpful to become aware of our language and the way we express ourselves. There are words we often use that keep us habitually bound to the past. Becoming conscious of what these words are and when we use them, and changing them – even in mid-sentence – can become our practice until such diligence is no longer required.

In order to have this choice, we need to be present and aware of how we habitually react when we are feeling a victim of our circumstance. The words we use when we feel this way limit our potential. These limiting words might include statements that begin with ‘I can’t . . .’, ‘You should . . .’, ‘They have to . . .’, ‘I never . . .’, ‘You always . . .’.

Listen to the following sentence: ‘I can’t speak up in meetings.’ What we’re really saying is that ‘We won’t speak up in meetings’ because the fact is we almost certainly can speak when we need to. It is because we willingly give our power to the long-held fear of speaking up that we’re dominated by our inability to respond.

We want to change our fear – which is the reaction – to a more positive response. We could change the sentence to, ‘I choose not to speak up in meetings because I respect the fear I hold.’ This is closer to the truth if we want to be aware rather than feel and sound like a helpless victim. Or we could take courage and say, ‘Up until now I haven’t been able to speak up, however today I choose to speak up in this meeting!’

When we choose to change our ‘victim language’ to a more empowered way of communicating we find it liberating and it builds our confidence.

3. Bring Awareness to your Feelings (even the painful ones)

Imagine that within your mind you have a mansion with as many rooms as you have feelings. There is a ‘fear room’, the ‘sad room’ and rooms for not coping, happiness, joy, despair, panic and so on. In some families or within ourselves there may be a whole ‘west wing’ of the mansion – an extension of the mansion where we keep the things that we don’t talk about, where we are too scared to explore.

Once we realise that we have a painful part of ourselves locked up – it may be a family secret around abuse, it may be our worst fear materialising, it may be a past wound that we keep hidden from everyone – we can gently bring our awareness to heal our past wounds. When we bring our awareness to embedded feelings of the past, we bring with it the healing touch of love and compassion. Awareness is love. In that moment we are transformed and the ripples of transformation flow into every corner of our lives to bring healing.

Remember, whatever is unresolved from the past will appear in the present again and again until we find a way of healing it. Many people benefit from having validation and guidance as they undertake this journey. Some people might find the support of their close friends and family is sufficient. However, most of us benefit from the more skilled and objective help of a therapist, counsellor, teacher or support group.

4. Practice the Formula of “I Notice…I Imagine…I Feel…”

The formula of “I Notice…I Imagine…I Feel…” explained below can be a very useful one for dealing with challenging conversations. This formula conveys that the other person is not the problem. It is as if we stand hand-in-hand together looking at the problem rather than seeing each other as the problem. Here is an example of how it might be used:

I notice that whenever I want to talk to you about driving more slowly you becomes angry…speed up…go quiet…get moody…laugh it off.
I imagine that driving fast is something you enjoy or you don’t realise that you’re speeding…that it’s just the way your drive.
I feel really frightened when you drive that way and I’m wondering how we can talk about it together so it will change.”

Make sure your intention is honourable and that it is an honest communication based on the need to share your thoughts and feelings. To read some more examples, click here.

During our residential retreat, Healing Your Life, we discuss effective communication skills and venture into the mansion of emotion. I encourage you to contact us on 1300 941 488 for a confidential chat if this is something of interest to you. You can also read more in my book Your Life Matters: The Power of Living in the Now.

~ Petrea King