2 Principles for Better Communication in Your Wellness Culture
Humans are wired to connect. The development of language is one of the major reasons that humans have evolved with the type of consciousness we have - autonoetic. Being able to mentally place ourselves in hypothetical scenarios in the past, present, or future.
These thoughts form models of how we believe the world to work. Thus, our mental schemas, and our personal narrative have massive effects on our overall states of well-being. This is because our stories dictate our actions.
We so often talk about diet and exercise in the quest to move from surviving to thriving. These are very important areas to address, as they help to shape our values, beliefs, identity, and of course our physiological health.
But we need to start discussing how to improve areas in our life that can cause us an inordinate about of mental and emotional stress. And one is central to the evolution of language:
How we perceive and interpret our social connections has a powerful impact on our bodies hormonal system. These impressions can cascade into other areas such as digestion, assimilation, performance, sleep, etc.
The two principles recommended below are put into place to help you establish common ground with the following assumption: both parties are working together towards a common goal.
Without this shared sense of higher purpose, the common ground these principles provide is not firmly established.
Think about building a structure on ground that is not stable. Part of a proper foundation is ensuring that the ground itself is conducive to the structural integrity of which that is being built.
No higher purpose, no strength in foundation.
The willingness to accept feedback, and not take it personally.
Always easier said than done, not taking anything personally is a skill that takes time to develop. It takes a lot of self-compassion and mindfulness to understand that not everyone is out to intentionally harm us.
When we have a shared higher purpose, and the team is working in harmony, communication needs to be transparent, open-minded, and honest. It must flow with ease.
The crutch of the project can’t be emotional reactions based on interpretations of what we think our teammates intentions were.
We have to be able to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective. When we become hyper focused on a project, or meeting a deadline, we can develop blinders. We all do this. Embrace this human tendency by welcoming other’s input.
This means that there is a massive trust component to not taking anything personally. You trust that the person is not attacking you, but is instead trying to develop the idea, thought, project, or action itself.
The courage to give feedback, from a place of non-judgement.
Sometimes, we fear giving honest feedback out of the potential discomfort that may arise. We don’t like rocking the boat. There can be a lot of self-doubt in this as we may lack trust in our own ability, and also feel ambivalence from not knowing how the other will respond. In this way, speaking up with honesty, and vulnerability takes courage.
How we say something matters as much, if not more so than what we say. For the most part, we all have a nice enough intent. But our actions sometimes do not align with this. We speak selfishly, not selflessly. We want to impose our agenda, motives, and ideas. But we must do so only when we have first listened.
When we listen, we understand priorities. When priorities are clarified, we can help accordingly.
This is the essence of ensuring psychological safety. You can’t assume that someone will change based off of your advice. How you deliver said advice, the person’s own perspective, and many other variables all play a part in the interpretation of what is being expressed.
A great question to ask is, “When I say this, what are you hearing and understanding?”
This helps the other understand that you are trying to make sure they hear everything you are trying to say. You are taking the guess work out of what you hope the other comprehends. Maybe they heard you loud and clear. Maybe they didn’t understand a specific thing. Maybe they thought you delivered the message in a way as to distort the actual message.
Trust that the other party is working to develop the skill of principle one, and not take anything personally. Have the courage to speak up. Focus on how you speak, especially with your body language, and tone. Keep the intent in mind: understanding the whole story to help move the cause forward. Your teammates respect and trust is a necessity to move forward - act accordingly.
Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If this post did help you, consider sharing it with someone you think it would help too.