Speaking In A Minefield
Speaking is like walking through a minefield blindfolded. We are so focused on ourselves we often fail to see that our words have blown up. Our meaning has been scattered to the winds but we are none the wiser.
Here are three communication mines we face, as teachers, students, managers, and employees.
The correct amount of confidence is tricky. Have too much confidence and you lose connection. Have too little confidence and no one listens.
You have to be honest about what you don’t know. At the same time, you have to feel ok about your limitations.
When I work with my teaching partner in Yoga school, I notice that I’m most effective when I’m calm, but not cocky. Whenever I think I know exactly what to do, I lose her.
Confidence has to do with our ability to be aware and present. When I’m attentive and focused, I give clear directions.
Life is more than just knowing it all. Experience is great but only when it gives us more space to be present.
We usually project what we want to see. We miss all the things that make others unique. Without this data, we can never connect with them.
Nevertheless, I’ve found some projection is necessary for effective communication.
When directing someone into a Yoga pose you have to project your own understanding of the movements onto your student. At the same time, you have to hold an awareness of how your words are affecting their body.
This balancing act is present in all communication. If we notice our words losing impact it’s great to check in on how we are projecting and whether or not it’s working.
As a teacher, my students don’t owe me anything. As a friend, employee, or even manager the same is true.
Having authority can lead us to believe we are entitled to be listened to. However, this attitude is rarely helpful.
Instead, we must try to make our communication accessible.
When I was working with my Yoga partner I noticed frustration arising when I gave a direction and she didn’t do anything.
She may have been following the instruction already. She may have not understood. She may have thought my directions were wrong.
Why she didn’t move doesn’t matter. My job as her teacher is to make my directions work for her. This asks me to I invite rather than command her to act.
In every situation, we should always work towards invitation. This has more to do with the attitude we bring than the words we use.
The key is remembering that we are indebted to our listener. They have given us their attention. We must repay this gift with the calm attention and clarity.
– Think of something you’d like to communicate to someone: A partner, friend, co-worker, student, or boss.
– Take a few minutes and write out exactly what you want to say.
– Then put this aside for a couple hours or a couple of days.
– When you come back too it read it out loud to yourself.
– Try reading it with confidence and then with uncertainty.
– Try reading it imagining their face in a scowl and then in a smile.
– Try reading it as a demand and then as an invitation.
– Then reflect of these tests and rewrite the phrase.
– Finally try expressing this idea to them keeping in mind the 3 mines you learned about in this post.