Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Communicating from Your Heart

Every day you encounter countless opportunities to apply the Art of Witnessing to make a difference in the quality of your living. A primary opportunity for this skillful practice involves your communication.

Since formats include email, audio, video, cell phone, texting, conventional phone, Skype, Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, and other social media, you have a wide variety to choose from at any moment in time.

Of course, you can always rely on handwritten notes, memos, and letters, or even face-to-face dialogue as well.

Although these forms require different levels of technological expertise, they share a common, sometimes forgotten, theme. They all represent structures to deliver your message.

Besides the delivery format, you could also attend to the nature or characteristics of the message itself. Three qualities that I've found helpful originate in ancient yogic philosophy and still apply today. That's where witnessing comes into play.

Before you apply witnessing in your communication, you'll need an understanding of the three characteristics to guide your attention. The following questions offer various ways to define these terms:

  • Is your message sufficiently concise, clear, and focused to be understood?
  • Does your communication make sense?
  • Is your message appropriate for the time and circumstances?
  • Is your message gentle, supportive, appreciative, empathic, or compassionate?
  • Does the "tone" (i.e., voice, text, video quality) of your communication encourage listening, reading, or viewing?
  • Is your message relatively easy to experience?
  • Is your message useful, helpful, or valuable?
  • Does your communication provide any benefits?
  • Is your message necessary?
After you have some understanding of these qualities, you're ready to engage your witnessing skills.

You may want to begin this practice with communications that are written, then by phone, and finally in person. In this way, you give yourself some space for rehearsal and review until you're ready for more spontaneous communicating in the physical presence of another person.

To use witnessing with your communications, simply ask yourself, without judgment, if your message demonstrates to your satisfaction the qualities of measured, pleasant, and beneficial.

Your communications will vary in the degree to which they reflect these qualities. You aren't trying to construct the "perfect" communications. Rather, you are deliberately infusing your messages with qualities that enhance your exchanges and relationships. Have fun!

At some point, you might also want to try the practice on yourself. That is, witness how you communicate to yourself. Are you measured, pleasant, and beneficial in your self-talk?

Imagine how your life would change if you were . . .

As you non-judgmentally witness communicating with yourself and others, you'll learn more about you, and discover new opportunities to skillfully integrate these three ingredients to flavor your messages.

Nurture your messages!

Love and Peace,

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