On Setting Ourselves Up to Communicate Better: 4 Starting Points
Ponder this insight: Our expanded awareness enables us to bring more of ourselves and thus more resources to bear on whatever problems or difficulties we may be facing. (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 40)
Recently, I got pretty cracked up on Google Plus when a few of my online colleagues were joking about how somewhat ridiculous it is that catalogs are all-too perfect in their staging.
Heck, there's even a whole blog dedicated to the cajoling of it called Catalog Living: A Glimpse Into The Exciting World of the People Living In Your Catalogs.
Tonight, when thinking about what to write though, this funny situation showed up as a metaphor for something.
I started thinking, "that entire process - of taking sparkling Pellegrino and filling vases with it, ensuring every pillow is neatly fastened on the beautiful couch we all want to buy, and creating covetous light - takes a minute to accomplish."
It doesn't happen quickly - each detail has to be thought through carefully. Staging is just that - staging. Creating something exquisitely beautiful so that it heavily appeals to the buyer. Where we ALL want to go out to Pottery Barn, West Elm, or ZGallerie and shop our domestic you-know-whats off. Go CRAZY. Pintuck. Sateen. Lace. Combed cotton. Terry cotton. You name it.
To have something to present and photograph is a lot of work and it's strategic, though. They don't just go in a room and start chunking pillows around and hope they land right-side up. No - they're thinking through every detail, so it appeals to you and me completely. And even though yours and my living room may NEVER look like that, it IS possible to create and therefore, buy all the products necessary to make it happen - if we wanted to.
I'm pretty sure this mimics the process we have to engage with in order to communicate better with everyone in our lives. It's not an overnight process. We're human beings after all.
I think we have to actually work at connecting with other humans. Some, more than others.
Here's some communication staging you can do to see a room light up for you:
Get off your cell phone
Let's admit it. We're all more connected than ever, yet we are the most disconnected cohort in the country. Cell phones & electronics have created the illusion we're constantly connected, but we're really not. And I'll be the first to admit I'm extremely connected. However, when I'm in the presence of others, I try to be VERY conscious about my phone. Depending on the importance of a call or text, about 90% of the time, anyone interrupting me with who I'm present with can wait. If you are consistently on the phone in the presence of others, how do you think they perceive your interest in their life? Sit with that. (And if you're not interested in that person's life & well-being, it might be time to evaluate why you're there to begin with).
Don't listen to respond. Listen to inquire further, be curious, get more details and gain emotional insight.
My pet peeve is a person who I can tell isn't truly listening to me when I talk. Their "yeah's" and "uh huh's" make me feel like I'm talking to a wall and I can tell they aren't focused at allon what I'm saying because of the distance in their eyes and lack of empathy. Not cool. Doesn't make me feel heard. You know what I mean - the person who is only listening until they can get their next word in. A huge part of that addiction is our incredibly fast-moving society. If you will slow down & let someone finish their sentence, I want you to notice how much more they will divulge, and how much more emotion will start to surface. We all deeply desire to be heard.
Look for patterns
Have you ever been talking to someone and they seem very confused about a situation? If you're not looking for patterns in the conversation, you might miss it. Sometimes, we're just flat out confused. And since relationship is why we're here, we carry the mantle of understanding and connection for that circumstance in our language and personal experiences. However, if all I'm doing is "uh-huh-ing" and nodding, I'm only adding to that person's confusion. They leave my presence just as much or more confused and not feeling the relationship is valuable.
Fluff the pillows
Every single one of us thrives when we hear we're making a difference, someone likes what we're doing, or that we look nice. It's just how we're wired. Whether it's an intrinsic or extrinsic compliment, it builds confidence for us to keep moving forward. Fluff the pillows.
I want to make clear that my premise is not that we fabricate or create a "pretty picture" for everyone on social media when things aren't going well somewhere else in a relationship (friendship, spouse, co-worker, etc.). And I'm not advocating that we "stage" a scenario that isn't authentic or true.
I'm utilizing the staging metaphor to refer to healthy communication and how we have to put some work in if we want it to look beautiful. Human beings are so complex and expressive - anything less than preparation for better communication is begging for turmoil.
Thank you for reading - where are you struggling the most in communication right now? Let me know in the comments...
Here's to better communication for you too...