“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” — Peter Drucker
A neighbor recently demonstrated the way he interacts with his two large dogs. He explained how his posture and the emotional tone of his voice play a big role in effectively communicating with his furry companions. It was amazing how well the dogs, both rescues, listened and responded to his commands.
The key, he noted, was that he is very present with the dogs. He uses a calm voice and recognizes that the dogs interpret his posture as well as his words. By taking all of this into account, he communicates compassionately, firmly, and effectively in a language that the dogs understand.
Listening to him speak, it became clear that what he was saying also translates into communicating with people. It is easy to believe that people are responding to only our words. In fact, they are also reading our body language, and the emotional tone of what we are saying. Recognizing these subtleties goes a long way in communicating effectively.
Our emotions are a big part of life, and yet we sometimes overlook their importance. This is why tending to ourselves, on every level, is so important to living a happy, successful life. When we feel good inside everything else flows. People are more apt to hear what we are saying, and be more open to our suggestions. As a teacher, parent, supervisor, or employee, this is a valuable awareness.
Teaching summer school this year brought this idea of effective communication to the forefront. While some students responded best to gentle, encouraging words, others were more comfortable with firm, direct statements about what was expected. There was one student in particular who would become agitated if spoken to with anything other than direct, authoritative language. When I used direct, clear instructions, he would relax and follow along with the lesson. With all of my students, the way I was feeling when I communicated was a big factor.
Throughout the summer session, one thing that kept me afloat was practicing meditation. This included a regular morning routine of reading, meditating, and focusing on positive outcomes. I followed this up with another ten minutes of meditation midway through the day. By taking this time to reset, I was energized and better prepared to deliver the lessons.
Another key to feeling good is eating regularly. In my case, breakfast was just the start. When lunch time rolled around, even though it was only 10:30 am, another meal was required. This meal, followed by the ten minutes of meditation, made the rest of the day go much more smoothly. Checking our hunger levels is paramount when making decisions, or communicating with others, which includes writing emails. If what you have to say is important, make sure you eat first.
The bottom line, with animals and people, is that when you feel good, you become magnetic. By modeling what a happy and successful person looks and feels like, people are more likely to want to hear what we have to say. This is why it is vital that we practice self-care. As obvious as that sounds, many of us often overlook its importance.
If you are having trouble communicating with someone, or feel like you are not being heard, check in with how you feel. Have you eaten recently? Have you taken the time to relax and plug into the positive potential of the situation? What can you do to support yourself so that you can effectively extend that support to others?
These are questions that must be asked repeatedly throughout the day. You are the greatest gift that you have to offer the world. By caring for yourself, and reminding yourself that you are amazing, you will naturally shine for others. From this empowered place, people will be excited to hear what you have to say.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, to find out more, or to share your thoughts with Ed, go to www.DarrellandEd.com.