For a long time, I thought communicating simply meant talking.
I viewed it as something people did through conversation, email or text. I participated in various communications regularly, allowing things to come out of my mouth as they wished. I didn't filter myself. I didn't think about how my words were affecting others or what I was really trying to say. In typical New York fashion, I spoke my mind.
When I met Taylor Eyewalker, she allowed me to see communication as an art form. I learned that every single word we utter holds power. Our communication can be clear and simple, or muddled and messy. As we bring awareness to our speech, we are able to turn talking into a transmission. Someone with great communication is effective, powerful and felt. There is little room for misunderstandings, hurt feelings or unclear intentions.
Through my work with Taylor, I began following a set of daily guidelines. Each night before bed, I would journal about them, acknowledging both my good and bad moments. As I paid more attention to my interactions, I realized how much I kept inside due to fear of confrontation. While my younger self was pretty bold, I had worked on becoming softer. And this softness was now causing me to withhold my truth. While it may seem like keeping things in benefits the other person, it actually doesn't.
Knowing that many people are heading back home for the holidays, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the ways that I have changed my communication skills.
CLARITY: Be clear when you speak. Say only what needs to be said and nothing more. If you are someone who needs time to gather their thoughts, go slowly. Think about what you are saying before it comes out of your mouth.
LISTEN: Being a good listener is a crucial part of communicating. It is so easy to tune out when someone is talking to you. I mean, I get it. We are living in a fast paced, ADD world. However, it is essential to really take in what the other person is saying to you. We are all just looking to be fully heard and seen.
PEACE BE WITH YOU: If you are holding a resentment against someone, clear it. This can be done within yourself or by discussing it with the other person. Just remember to be as emotionally clear as possible when doing so. Avoid communicating when you are still angry.
THOU SHALL NOT TALK SHIT: So this one was a total game changer for me. After taking on a 40 day no gossiping contract, my relationship to this behavior completely shifted. I quickly realized that every time I gossiped, I was left feeling drained and guilty. I also began to see how shit talking is like small talk- we use it as a way to fill space. Instead of participating in this form of communication, I saw it as a challenge to get creative with my words. This is not to say that I never gossip, but I'm pretty good about it.
SAY NO TO SMALL TALK: So this one may be more challenging during the holidays with work and family gatherings, but not impossible. Give it a try. See how it feels to not say anything unless you are completely inspired to do so. A lot of our communication is done out of habit and politeness. While it may seem like the right thing to do, it ends up wasting a lot of energy.
TIMELY RESPONSES: No one likes to have their texts, emails or calls ignored. I know that we are all busy, but how long does it really take to return a text? Coming from someone who was once famous for not answering her phone, I understand that it can seem challenging. However, I have worked hard on being available to respond when people reach out. It's really not that difficult and it shows people that you value what they are saying.
Wishing you all a cozy holiday.