Monday, March 18, 2013

Making myself clear

When we were teenagers my father would save articles, job adverts, book reviews and other so-called ‘interesting snippets’ he found in the newspaper and leave them on the breakfast table for me and my brothers to read.  We’d dread coming down in the morning to see neatly cut out pieces of paper on the table.  Of course, being a teenager, I took this communication as a direct criticism; that he was disappointed in my achievements in the world and he knew better about what I should be doing with my life.

I was wrong. 

I now realise what my father had really been trying to communicate.  He hadn’t been judging us, he was expressing his belief in us.  
Being a parent myself now I understand that his intention was to inspire and stimulate us to look beyond the world we knew, to believe in ourselves and reach for the stars. 

Just the other day I recognised, with horror, that I was doing the 21st century equivalent; sending my kids emails with links to articles, websites, ideas, Tedtalks, events and YouTube clips. Anything I thought they’d find useful, interesting, amusing, helpful and supportive.

Okay, they’ve found some of them funny or touching and maybe even a little helpful at times, but mostly they’ve found them annoying, intrusive and interfering. I discovered that my loving missives were being received with a collective groan and a little resentment. 

Communication can be so tricky.  You think you’re expressing love and support yet it can come across as being interfering and controlling.  What can seem like a bad attitude and being difficult from another is often someone feeling hurt and misunderstood.  

Learning how to make your inner and your outer communication consistant is the key, but first you have to know your own style of communication and discover the messages you're really giving. 

6 secrets to clear communication 
  • Understand your feelings and be clear about the message you want the other person to receive.  Make sure your thoughts, words and actions are aligned.
  • Speak from the heart.  What is said from the heart is heard in the heart. 
  • Listen deeply.  The best communicators are those that listen with a deep intention to understand.
  • Be observant. The spoken word is just 7% of our communication.  Much more is expressed with tone, body language, facial expressions, actions...and silence.  
  • Be honest, open and willing to be wrong.  All communication is improved when defences are dropped.
  • Be forgiving.  Everyone makes mistakes, even you!   
I've decided to look kindly on my own misguided attempts at helping my children and when I next feel tempted to send them a message I'll make sure the true message of love is easily read.  


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