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Is Your Communication An Asset Or A Liability?
“That was a total waste of time.” How often do those words pop in your mind after a meeting or conversation?
Though training on communication abounds, unresolved misunderstandings and tensions continue to grow in the world. It can feel like we are speaking endlessly to say little of substance. Being shuffled from meeting to meeting for things that do not require our presence, time, or effort. Leaving us feeling frustrated, wondering how do we say no? How can we be clearer and more efficient?
Given the importance of a leader’s ability to communicate effectively, it is hard to understate the critical importance of devoting time and resources to gain and practice the essential skills for clear and effective communication.
While communication programs teach you how to communicate, they often fall short of conveying the importance of the source of your communication: awareness of the internal state of being you communicate from. In short, you are conditioned to communicate from your unconscious. And the unconscious contains much of what you suppressed to protect yourself from painful situations.
What you suppress though can bubble up in full force at the most inconvenient times, turning simple conversations into painful encounters. This is how conflict begins.
But here is a secret I learned years ago: “You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to.” This one single line is so profound that it shifted my attention and energy toward peace each time a conflict was imminent. But I also had to learn the vital distinction between avoiding conflict and developing the ability to stay centered and clear long enough for a peaceful resolution.
The truth is the quality of your communication is determined by far more than the words we use. Our body language often mirrors the gap between our thoughts and our words. But far beyond that, here are just some of the differences that challenge our attempts to communicate effectively:
Environmental stressors like organizational culture
Regardless of the roles you play in life, your ability to communicate literally shapes the relationships around you, hence, making your communication the vehicle for your sense of connection, your boundaries, your influence, and your impact.
Here are 5 Skills to Cultivate That Will Sharpen Your Communication Skills:
1. Collaborative listening:
While active listening helps you listen with presence, collaborative listening brings the heart into the listening. It speaks to the intention with which you listen, and it supports you in looking for win-win outcomes, from a place of clarity, and alignment.
As the leader of your life, and your vision, your self-awareness opens the doors to success. Developing and practicing the ability to recognize the emotions, needs, values, and wounds that drive your behavior gives you the ability to interrupt harmful patterns. For example, if you are an overly empathic leader, you will likely have difficulty holding people accountable for their actions. And instead, overgive to exhaustion to compensate. Becoming aware of how this pattern translates in behaviors, actions or inactions, helps you interrupt it, and instead communicate your real needs.
3. Emotional regulation:
While self-awareness gives you the recognition of your patterns, emotional regulation allows you to shift your emotional state quickly and effectively from reactivity to response.
Developing emotional regulation though is no easy feat when you are wounded. Whether it is about receiving feedback or going into the fight-flight response due to a past trauma, being triggered emotionally and having the ability to self-regulate is generally the outcome of many hours of mindfulness building practices.
4. Comfort with discomfort:
Navigating difficult conversations and conflict with assertiveness and grace allows you to move conversations beyond polarization into alignment. However, your success will depend on your ability to stay grounded, clear, firm yet compassionate. When it comes to building your muscle for comfort with discomfort, the best prescription I found is to practice. In small doses, and with self-compassion. And of course, with discernment to ensure you are not overly triggering your nervous system.
It can seem counter-intuitive to think of silence as a necessary skill for effective communication. However, silence has many advantages. It allows you and the listener to process the impact of communication before responding. It helps you tune in and clarify what needs to be said or done. It allows you to notice non-verbal communication and feel the energetic field between you and the other person or the group. And it allows you to hear your intuition, which in turn surfaces creative solutions. In short, it prevents shouting matches, and supports higher-quality decision making.
Communication is only the surface layer of much of our own inner world. It acts as an outer manifestation of our unseen pain, and our healed patterns. As a leader called into steering your life and working with a deep sense of purpose, alignment and clarity, mastering your communication is a necessary endeavor, if not a spiritual practice.
If you would like support on this journey, I invite you to my Conscious Communication & Collaboration Program or join my free newsletter to receive your Free Life Upgrade Reflection Wheel and be invited to future opportunities to connect.
To your success!
About the Author
Name: Kawtar El Alaoui, LL.B, PCC
Title: Founder & CEO, Conscious Togetherness, Inc.
Bio: Kawtar El Alaoui, LL.B, PCC is the #1 best-selling author of Unfolding Peace, 9 Leadership Principles to Create Cultures of Wellbeing, Belonging, and Peace. Her work supports servant leaders and purpose-driven organizations to become powerful change agents by bridging purpose, whole-brain leadership, and effective strategy in service to a better and more prosperous world. Kawtar is a Trained True Purpose ®Coach, Faculty & Mentor with Leadership That Works India, Facilitator with the Business Plan for Peace in the UK, and Leadership Advisor with She Did It! Elle a osé! in Canada. She is the Founder & CEO of Conscious Togetherness, Inc.