06 May 2012 No Comments
Communicating consciously can be such a powerful and beautiful thing, or at least I think so! Words can have such an impact on the recipients. I learned a lot about conscious communication when studying psychosynthesis and counselling skills. Two important skills stick in my mind:
1.Learning how to ‘own’ my communication.
2.Learning how to, lovingly, give feedback.
Owning my communication
Taking charge of how we feel, not giving our power away and not projecting our feelings onto others is an incredibly empowering communication skill. It is common to hear people say things like:
“You make me feel so small”
“You make me so angry”
“You really upset me”
This kind of language is used so often, I use it myself when I am not connected to heart and mind, and it shows a complete dis-ownership of power. At our core we know that no one else can make us feel or think anything. How much more conscious do the above statements sound if written like this:
“I feel so small when you do/say that”
“I feel so angry when you do/say that”
“I feel really upset”
Using an “I” statement gives us back some authority over our own feelings. This ownership of feelings can also stop, or prevent, arguments – because there is no blame, we are not blaming someone for how we feel, we are simply communicating our feelings. The person receiving the statement is given space to see how the other person feels as a consequence of an action or speech. It may seem like a very small and insignificant communication step but it made an impact in my life at work, at home with my family, in my marriage and in friendships.
More on this kind of communicative work can be found at The Center For Non Violent Communication
Learning how to, lovingly, give feedback
Currently I am blessed to be part of a group programme that supports people insetting up, or growing, their own business. Part of this programme means getting together with the other (fabulous) participants via phone/email/internet to give each other feedback.
Do you find it hard to give feedback that you think might be taken as criticism?
I do! I love giving honest, heartfelt encouragement and praise but I worry if there is a comment that I want to make that may seem ‘negative’, I want to give the feedback because the recipient might be really pleased that I picked up on it but on the other hand I don’t want to upset them as I know they have worked hard on whatever it is that I am feeding back on. I know that I have loved the ‘constructive criticism’ that I have received from some of the group members, it has all been so useful”
So here’s what I find helpful and what I have learned:
Firstly I find it useful to change the words. Negative feedback and constructive criticism can be difficult words for some people, I prefer to use “growth point” or “growth opportunity” “growth feedback” – this seems to imply that I can either take the feedback or leave it, I can use it for growth if I want to.
Secondly, the process I love for giving feedback was originally taught to me as “The marmite sandwich” (or sometimes, less lovingly, called “the sh*t sandwich) because the recipient will either love the growth point feedback or hate it. In this process the difficult/constructive/growth piece of feedback is sandwiched between two positive pieces of heartfelt feedback. So, first of all a piece of positive feedback is given (I think it is always easy to find positive feedback), then the piece of feedback that might be taken as ‘negative’ is given, it is given in a loving way. Lastly another piece of heartfelt positive feedback is given. This love sandwich can really help the recipient to take on board all the feedback given.
Recently I was given a really fabulous piece of constructive ‘growth’ feedback. It was honest and really, very, helpful. The same email also contained the most beautiful and loving endorsement of my work, however, it took me a while to open my heart to it. The only reason for this was that my heart was so locked down and constricted by the fact that the ‘growth’ point, constructive, feedback was given first in the email, in fact it was the very first line. I read it and I shut down, even though the point made was totally valid and even though it was followed by this incredible, positive, loving feedback. I acted on the ‘growth’ feedback immediately but it took me a while to take in the gorgeous positive feedback. Now, a few days later I can laugh at myself. I am a sensitive introvert, a different individual would probably reacted differently.
I have found that this ‘sandwich’ method for giving feedback has helped me to communicated better in my work and in relationships. It has also enabled me to communicate better with myself, I find I can be less harsh in my internal dialogues by giving myself positive feedback in this way.
Wishing you all a consciously communicative day!
I highly recommend a great book that I just finished reading: “Quiet. The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” by Susan Cain
If you are finding it difficult to be loving with yourself you might like to take a look at my ‘love yourself e-book’