No matter how much people get along, they will always have moments where they don’t see things ‘eye to eye.’ In these situations, effective communication is necessary to ensure that individuals can come to a peaceful resolution while simultaneously meeting their needs. There are three simple steps that individuals can take that allow for mutual respect, understanding, and proactive co-existence: Honest Ownership, Listen to Understand, and Offer Solutions.
1. Honest Ownership: Honest ownership begins with the understanding that each person is at least fifty percent responsible for whatever misunderstanding that exists. This can be difficult to do, especially when someone has been lied to regarding some issue. Yes, even when one party has been lied to, both parties are equally responsible for the misunderstanding. Let’s say, for example, that one party had the tendency of blaiming the other or had the tendency to put undo pressure on them to do things that they were not comfortable doing. Even though they had not done the lying, they influenced the “lie” through behavior that lacked compassion and sensitivity. Empathy is a requirement for the type of ownership that I am suggesting here. When you understand that our minds are dualistic in nature, which means that they live in opposites. One is right and the other is wrong and both can’t be right. That would go against the logical nature of our thinking. Awareness allows for the breakdown of the limitations of dualistic thinking into a more open and inclusive type of thinking. When I say inclusive, I mean thinking that expands its scope to include contradictory truths simultaneously. For example, as we discussed above, when an obvious injustice has occured (i.e. lying), both parties are partially responsible for the lie.
2. Listen To Understand: Listening to understand begins with the way our minds think. Our minds job is to know or be right or to find answers to the many questions that present themselves to us from moment to moment. This is a very valuable quality and necessary for our very survival. Yet, this “knowing function” in its extreme can result in narcissism. The narcissist will always need to be right even when that knowledge can cause harm to themselves or others. So, as much as we need to establish conviction in our beliefs, we must simultaneously allow a space for receiving new information so that we can continue to grow and learn new ways of being and doing. Learning to listen to understand versus listening to prove our point of view is the difference between healthy dialogue and needless debating. When we communicate with our friends and family, we need to open our hearts and really care about what our co-communicators are trying to say. In essence, listening to understand requires that we connect to our internal state of being while communicating our point of view. Caring comes from this place and not our intellectual faculties. Heartfelt communication is also the source of being truly powerful and enables us to create value no matter how desolite the situation might seem. Listening to understand is the source of co-creation versus co-destruction.
3. Offer Solutions: When a problem presents itself, individuals can easily fall into the trap of a communicative exchange that focuses on the problem versus offering solutions to the problems. It is very easy to communicate on what is going wrong because that requires very little thought or reflectivness. It’s like saying, “Hey look, a tornado is coming right towards our house,” without considering ways to get to safety. If you pay attention when you are communicating with others, you might be very suprised at how much communicative energy is spent on what went wrong or who screwed up a situation. It is so wasteful to be this way, because all that occurs is a reliving or recreating of the problem. The most interesting thing about communication that lacks solutions is that it exemplifies the epitomy of unconsciousness. If we are not addressing problems with solutions we are always unconscious because our conscious minds will always strive for a way or various ways to fix the problem. I’ve had clients ask me how they can prevent this type of uncosciousness and it is a difficult answer because if you’re unconscious you don’t really know all that is going on. The best way is to practice observance through meditative techniques on a daily basis.