What’s your goals for 2016 someone asked me as before I boarded the plane from Dublin back to Dubai. “More conscious communication” I replied.
What is conscious communication? Well I have been asking people the same question and for me conscious communication is one were you listen attentively not to respond, but to first understand, in simple terms actually listen. It’s so cliché I hear you say but Steve Covey put it nicely in his book 7 habits of highly effective people; ‘Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.’ Here lies the major flaw.
But why is this so important? It’s really only since I started training people in presenting that I have begun to see the power of both listening consciously and communicating consciously.
What I found when I became more aware, present or conscious in my communication was that I was able to build deeper relationships, connection, understanding and insights. I became better at guiding people’s attention. I started to hear people say “oh you were really listening” as if it were a surprise that anyone might listen when having a conversation. You may remember sitting with grandparents and how you always felt good after talking to them, how they listened to your every word and how they wouldn’t pass judgement, they only wanted to understand you first.
You see face to face conversation is one of the most human things we do and yet we shy away from them so much. I recently read an article called “Reclaiming Conversation for Thinking” and found it fascinating when a professor from MIT spoke about how many people now would rather text than talk. She spoke how students at MIT would rather write an email to her, than sit and have a conversation with her. She called this a transaction model rather than relationship model. She found the reason behind this was the student’s fear of vulnerability and/or drive for perfection which deterred them from having a conversation.
This is also the case with presenters, they want to come across so perfect, so eloquent that they forget that the best way to present is through a connection with the audience, a conversation. We are now starting to see more requests for presentation training to specifically help presenters when they are asked a question from the audience. Previously presenters would just go through their script and not engage their audience now they have no choice but to create dialogue and engage.
Steve Jobs “Write a script and then throw it away”.
Kyle Cease sums this up nicely in his video blog when he says when you write a script is because you are trying to get something from someone and that comes across in our communication.
There is also negative effects for the listener if he or she is not listening consciously, we see this a lot with politicians and in the media. We are bombarded with vague language and when we don’t listen consciously we make conclusions on the basis of the vague language we received.
George Orwell ; By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.
This is the cause of so many problems in the world. We all have a responsibility to become more aware of the communication we are receiving, only then can we make more informed decisions. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable we will shrink our capacity to think by throwing our mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come flowing in.
So my challenge for you; become more curious about the language you use and receive, step away from texts and emails wherever possible. Don’t be afraid to have conversations, become aware of yourself thinking, your heart beating and your mind speaking, it’s a sign that you are alive. I leave you with this piece from George Orwell and hope that you too don’t become a dummy.
When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy.
Sharing thoughts and Ideas
Unlearning along the way.