Since most of us never experience complete communication, we do not know what we are missing. We are left with a deep need to be heard. This “longing to be heard” begins very early and stays with us throughout our lives. Listen to what that longing is telling us. It’s a crying out. It’s a request. “Please get who I am and accept me honestly without judgment. Hear my words. Understand my needs and let it be okay for me to be who I am. Trust me. When I speak, be with me in my space and hear what I say. Let me know that you hear me and that you understand. I am not asking you to agree with me. I only ask that you hear me and understand. Once I know you have heard me and get what I am saying, then I can listen to what you have to say to me. If I know that my intention has been received, I feel complete. I feel whole. I feel that I have been understood. It makes me comfortable. It validates who I am. It prepares me to listen to, understand and discover you in turn.”
Having our story heard gives us a feeling that we matter. This validation helps us to be authentic and feel that our contributions are valuable. We are not asking the listener to “fix us” by offering solutions or advice. Nor do we want to hear the listener’s problems or judgment. Once we have been fortunate enough to develop this kind of open, honest, one-on-one communication, we rise to a new level of self-esteem and confidence. Our words, ideas and intentions take on a new importance, and we produce better actions and results. Communication really is the golden thread woven into the fabric of our values and self-esteem.
Repeated incomplete communication takes place in every area of our lives until we reach a breaking point. We ultimately shut down and cease trying to be heard. We often think, “Why should we? Nobody is listening anyway”. We become stuck. A feeling of suffocation stifles our enthusiasm and creativity. Ultimately we lose our sense of uniqueness.
Look back into your own experience. How often did you have something exciting to tell about or an important issue to discuss? Instead you chose not to because of a negative experience where someone harshly disagreed with you or made fun of what you said. We have all had it happen, either in school, in the work place, or in a personal relationship. It is painful and tends to stifle our desire to share our opinions and creative ideas.
Imagine having something important to say to someone. Picture the energy that goes into the thought process before the words even form. Think of the inner dialogue, the practice session before the words flow out. All the time and energy, all the emotion, all the tension builds up. Then you speak! Your words fall to the floor, shatter and vanish. All that preparation and the words never made it to their destination. A deep sigh wells up. The moment is gone, the energy is dispersed and the thought is diminished. How discouraged you feel! What this tells us is that we often don’t deliver our idea with enough confidence, clarity and enthusiasm. We do not expect to be heard. Our method of setting up the communication is inadequate.
Try that scenario again, only this time you expect to be heard. Imagine yourself going through the steps of forming your idea and intention, choosing the time and place to express that idea and getting the attention of the one with whom you want to speak. Notice the power of the positive way you imagine this scene. The difference here is that you are expecting to be heard. There is a clear purpose and powerful intention. You believe that what you have to say is worth hearing. It is meaningful and deserves complete attention.
To assist you in becoming a positive communicator here is a six-part formula for successful communication. First, decide what you want to say and expect to be heard. Pick the time and place. Get the attention of the listener. Communicate whether you want the listener to just listen, give an opinion or solve the problem. Get an acknowledgment from the listener that they heard you. Finally, acknowledge the listener for hearing you.