Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s separation birthed conscious communication and because of that the conversation started about how we deal with our own relationships. It is not always easy to be completely aware when we communicate with others. Speaking honestly, listening deeply, and navigating the inevitable twists and turns of a conversation all require a high degree of self-awareness. Whether one’s aim is strategic (to achieve a certain end) or relational (to connect), communication involves a meaningful exchange that leads to understanding. There are three important ingredients to master conscious communication: to be present, to come from curiosity and care, to say what we want.
Leading with presence is a fundamental practice to conscious communication. If we are not aware we may end u running on automatically or consumed by an inner narrative of judgements, criticism, mind wandering. Mindful communication asks of us to be present, to be mindfully embodied in the conversation, to observe ourselves. That will allow us to choose when to speak and when to listen. After all, the conversation is a dynamic interplay between each person’s choice to speak or listen. The more we are aware of ourselves, the more we are aware of the other we speak to. In other words, presence opens the door to mutuality.
Coming from curiosity is probably the hardest of all. Our intention can determine the whole tone and trajectory of dialogue, the motivation behind our words, and, sadly, rarer than often, our intention is far from this. Where are we coming from? Which strategies are we using? Do we tend to avoid conflict?
Do we want to win an argument, being right is more important than understanding the other’s perspectives? Or are we passive-aggressive, meaning we express our displeasure about a situation in an indirect way?
Do you manipulate, meaning you intentionally on unintentionally ask questions or say things, with an answer or response in mind? Recognizing our patterns in conflicts is the first step to transforming them. Mindfulness can allow us to choose a different course of action when in conflict.
However, to fully understand our strategies, and to have the tools to change them, there is something primal and fundamentally human that we need to acknowledge, that is, our needs. All our actions are motivated by an intrinsic need. When we finally choose to come from curiosity and care, we have to be willing to learn about our needs. So let’s ask ourselves: What do we want the other person to do? And, “What do I want their reasons to be for doing it?”
Image Source: Collectively Free
Identifying our needs and developing a balanced relationship with them form the groundwork for being able to express ourselves and engage effectively in dialogue. At the same time, identifying others’ needs allows us to make heartfelt connections across differences.
When we become aware of our needs our hearts opens; something will soften inside as we understand intuitively what matters to someone else. Needs are universal, they connect us. Becoming conscious of them can help us evaluate our actions and strategies of communication, and make different choices: transform patterns of blame and judgement into understanding each other; finally, they prompt us to collaborate, if both share each other’s needs, it can bring the opportunity to find solutions together.
Identifying the needs can be quite triggering. When conditions are not met, emotions arise. Unpleasant ones can lead us to the either reactive expression of a feeling or suppression of it. Either way, harm is made. Emotions can be potent, blinding us; at times, they can get the better of us. If on the other hand, we suppress them, we lose touch with ourselves.