In Part 1 of these essential guidelines, we addressed honesty in communication by asking the question, “Is it true?” The remaining three guidelines discussed below invite a deeper contemplation of what we bring to our relationships.
Is it useful?
This question invites us to reflect on the content of what we express in the world. Do you gossip? Do you facilitate your own and others’ personal drama? Are you a chatterbox who doesn’t leave space in the conversation for anyone else to contribute? I invite you to genuinely examine your speech throughout the day. Is it useful, helpful, coming from care and openness?
Consider these common ways of speaking:
- Criticizing and judging
- Blaming others
- Chattering on about trivial matters
- Repeating the story of one’s personal drama to anyone who will listen
Now consider the following and notice the quality of the experience that arises as you read them. How does it feel to speak from an open heart?
- Sharing your own or another’s joy and good fortune
- Sincerely complimenting another
- Asking for or offering support or help
- Talking about recent everyday experiences as a way to connect
- Asking questions to understand someone more deeply
- Solving a problem together
Let your awareness and even your whole body, every cell, be open to new ways of communicating. Bring your attention inside to connect with your deepest desires, what you really want to be saying. Be careful not to delude yourself or pretend you don’t know the truth. Lovingly welcome all your feelings, needs, and justifications. In the light of awareness that includes everything, allow your natural, heartfelt responding to flow.
Can I say it with kindness?
Compassionate communication begins with an open heart and an intention for a true connection. You can reflect and see for yourself: Are your words gentle or harsh? Do your tone of voice and body language convey that you are open and available? We are so fortunate to be able to be conscious of the energy we contribute to the world. Here is our choice: to perpetuate negativity and division or support fulfillment and unity.
Hurtful speech is distancing. It stems from conditioned views and opinions that we sometimes take very seriously. Fueled by fear and separation, we expect a specific response and judge or put down others when they don’t meet our needs. Speaking in a hurtful way promotes conflict and disharmony in our relationships and our world. How can we come together if we use antagonistic words or blurt out our feelings without tempering them?
You may be used to speaking in ways that cut people off or shut them down. Maybe you sap the energy from others or your biting humor stabs. It is possible for these tendencies to fall away. Knowing yourself so fully that you see through to the deepest truth can transform your defenses. The heart opens, and the sense of separation disappears.
Is now the proper time and place?
I’ll let you in on a little secret I have learned. If there is something burning that I think I need to say to someone, I try to maximize my chances for a satisfying conversation. I wait for the time when there is privacy, I am relaxed, and the other person seems receptive. To my great surprise and relief, I have often found that in the waiting, whatever seemed so important for me to say loses its charge. Often, I can’t even find the problem anymore.
Now, when a story begins to repeat itself in my mind about what needs to be said, I feel the intensity underneath that is driving it, and my whole perspective shifts. Sometimes I still need to speak, but the conversation comes from a more grounded and loving place with much less emotional charge. It’s not an exaggeration to say that my relationships have been transformed by this understanding. If you try this out in your own life, please let me know what happens.
In choosing when to speak, be respectful, consider the other person’s needs, and center yourself in your heart. Ask your friend if the time is right. If you stop communicating effectively, acknowledge the difficulty, and take a break until you are more clear and open.
It takes courage and willingness to alter our habits of speaking. As you are learning by now on this site, every behavior, thought, or feeling is a potential opening into a deeper investigation of unconscious, conditioned patterns. All it takes is a sense of uneasiness or an honest look into what isn’t working in our lives, and before you know it, we are discovering ancient fears and resistances that have been lying hidden in the recesses of our being. And these can cause a lot of trouble. Simply said, if you want to be completely free, all of it needs to be seen.
Can we be totally honest with ourselves? Let’s see what we bring to our interactions that is distancing, manipulative, or fear-based. Know these dynamics so completely with the light of your consciousness that they can no longer hide. Ask yourself what you really want, and have the courage to express it in your daily life. You are a breath of fresh air when you say the truth with kindness and compassion. And if you falter, be heartened by the opportunity to renew your commitment once again. See how you avoid intimacy, meet the fear fully, and be generous. Let your radiance shine.
image credit: pedrosimoes7