- Jennifer Stafford
Getting to Know Self Series: Communication
You have so much power.
Communication truly is our livelihood. Think about it. Communication is a primary player in how human beings interact with one another. No matter what language we learn growing up, we are taught that we can convey messages from within ourselves to someone else either spoken, written or through gestures and movements. That is the power of our creation and our connectedness. Somehow, we had to figure out how to figure things out and we did. We always have and we will continue to do so. We are so incredibly dynamic as human beings.
We have even created a way for things created by us to communicate. It is interesting that most of us seem to understand how essential communication is and also at the same time disregard how absolutely necessary it is to treat our words as precious communication currency. Our communication styles and our brains are a relational system. They do a delicate dance that gives us guidance and information on our self-operation. We have verbal, non-verbal, written and visual communication as human beings. Nuances in tone of voice, facial expression and body movement can speak for us and to us just as compellingly as words can. What we say, what we say to ourselves, what we think about and what we think about others all has an impact on how we interact and show up in relationships. How we communicate could literally make or break our lives.
Think about how your communication style influences your relationships with others. Whether it's at work, school, in the community or at home, think about how the way you speak impacts your mood for the day. The words we choose matter. The gestures we make, the way our face squinches up and the thoughts we have about something all play a role in how people experience us. Like energy attracts like energy. If we are constantly and consistently thinking, seeing and sharing limited views and negative perspectives we are preparing ourselves for unpleasant outcomes and interactions with others.
Overlooking the significance of seeking out appropriate words to articulate our needs is one of the biggest crimes we can commit against ourselves. The ability to express ourselves is another one of our human being superpowers. It is the route we use to give voice to our deepest whispers from within. No matter how long or how well someone has known us, they will never be able to share information to and from ourselves better than we can. Effective and efficient communication requires a great deal of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge requires emotional navigation and knowing how to feel feelings.
Emotions have their own unique role in communication. The best communication comes from being present to the here and now of the moment. Emotions impact how we feel and how we feel about something impacts our communication around it. That dance between our communication style and our brain works most optimally for us when we are present to the moment that we are in. When the present is unpleasant, our stress response system kicks in to help us out of the unpleasant situation. This is also when our defense mechanisms start to show up. Leaving the reality of what is happening right in front of us and being led by what the emotion brings up can make a mess of our communication.
Emotion often fuels the undercurrent of communication.
Being unaware of or not present to our emotional experiences can greatly interfere with our ability to communicate efficiently and effectively. It affects us feeling heard and/or understood and our ability to make others feel heard and/or understood. If we are not emotionally aware in our communication, we are not fully in the conversation.
Have a look below and identify your primary communication style. Perhaps you use different styles for different people or situations. Maybe you communicate one way professionally and another personally, if so, how come?
Note: Compassionately accountable communication is the ultimate form of communication we as human beings can experience and attain. Aim high and do your due diligence to learn and practice what you need in order to ensure that you show up as your best version of yourself for yourself.
Compassionately Accountable: Easily takes accountability for their contribution to the interaction and shares perspective openly. Allows space for differing perspectives. Communication is rooted in emotional regulation and mindfulness of oneself. Compassionately accountable communication is direct, clear and appropriately concise. The goal of the communicator is to listen, respond and hold a safe space for the entirety of the communication.
Passively Accountable: Takes accountability for contribution to the interaction upon inquiry of others. Uncertain of how to hold space for one's own perspective. A communication style centered around judgment of emotional experiences and rooted in avoidance of perceived wrongdoing. Communication is short and hurried with minimal validation and limited openness to accountability. The goal of the communicator is to get through the conversation or interaction as quickly as possible.
Passively Defensive: Has a hard time taking accountability for their contribution to the interaction. Unable to hold space for differing perspectives. A communication style centered around a lack of emotional awareness and rooted in defending one's argument or perspective. Comments and communications made in passive defensiveness are covert and unclear in their function. The goal of the communicator is to protect themselves at all costs without open acknowledgement of the feeling of needing to protect themselves in the communication.
Aggressively Accountable: Takes accountability for contribution to the interaction with anger and defensiveness. Unwilling to hold space for differing perspectives. A communication style centered around guilty feelings and rooted in harsh self-judgment of not being perceived as "perfect." The goal of the communicator is to protect themselves from feeling attacked by begrudgingly taking accountability for their contribution to the communication.
Aggressively Defensive: Refuses to acknowledge accountability for their contribution to the interaction. Disregards listening to others and fully zeroed in on defending themselves. A communication style centered around denial and avoidance and rooted in the invalidation of emotion during communication. The goal of the communicator is to get away from all experiences of emotional unpleasantness by verbal attacking.