“It was a beautiful Fall Friday afternoon…”
That is how the original post One Simple Way to Improve Your Communication began. Check it out here to refresh your memory. In his post, Dr. Nate Regier unpacks the concept of personal disclosure and its positive impact on our communication. He picked one (Disclosure) of three strategies to become more Open in our communication. And I think he picked the most vulnerable one!
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brene Brown
I think Brene Brown’s perspective on vulnerability and our concept of Openness are very related and here is the thing…neither are easy!
Personal disclosure and disclosing our motives are certainly great strategies for improving our conversations. I believe Nate’s stories of disclosure are so powerful and intriguing because when someone discloses they are being authentic and getting vulnerable. When that happens, others listen differently. The conversation takes an unexpected turn because ultimately want to connect with each other and hearing someone become vulnerable and authentic these days is surprising.
There are many reasons we choose not to disclose or not to be vulnerable and I believe in order to become more comfortable and even just willing to disclose we must first understand what we normally do, how we usually behave.
Aaron’s bonus free download: Understanding the Drama Triangle, Chapter 3 of Beyond Drama. I believe you will find a great explanation of very common, habitual behavior that we often choose to keep ourselves right where we are, especially in those difficult moments. In addition, I want you to have a one-page guide for three strategies for being Open (this is our version of Vulnerability). This will help pave the way for experimenting with new ways of approaching your personal and professional communication.
Here are three strategies for improving your communication through practicing Openness.
Openness involves transparency, courage, self-awareness, empathy, confidence in one’s adequacy and willingness to ask for help. When we are open we recognize that our own OK-ness is not dependent on others, and that we earn respect from others by first respecting ourselves. When we are open we choose to be caring and vulnerable without compromising our personal strength and identity.
Strategy 1: Disclose your own feelings and wants. Nate did a great job of explaining this. Read that post here.
Strategy 2: Invite and validate other’s feelings and wants.
I believe this strategy involves all the tried and true skills of listening that many of us have been taught, learned about or practiced. There are two significant factors I keep in mind for this strategy. One is focusing on the other without having your own agenda creating too much interference. The other method I was taught many years ago by Susan K. Gilmore and it has served me well since. Listen to others as if you are listening to or seeing THEIR movie…get in to it to understand what this person is experiencing. Being able to repeat that back to them can be a powerful way to resonate with someone.
Strategy 3: Empathize through personal experience.
Warning! There is a risk here. It takes some careful self-regulation. This is a difficult one for me. I am really good at relating what someone is telling me to a personal experience I’ve had. I get it because I can empathize through my own similar experience. That is fine, in and of itself, and where I go too far is when I begin to focus on the content and details of my story versus simply communicating just enough to say, “I’ve had something similar and was really scared too.” I will continue to get excited about my connection and then the conversation starts to feel like it is all about me. I don’t do this all the time, thank goodness, and when I do, I get embarrassed and I then feel awkward. Here is another recent post about this dynamic with some good tips on how to do this differently.
Aaron’s bonus free download: Understanding the Drama Triangle, Chapter 3 of Beyond Drama. I think you will find a great explanation of very common, habitual behavior that we often choose to keep ourselves right where we are, especially in those difficult moments. In addition, I want you to have a one-page guide for three strategies for being Open (this is our version of Vulnerability). This will help pave the way for experimenting with new ways of approaching your personal and professional communication.
Learning to be Open is a great step toward better communication and relationships both personally and professionally. It is hard work and requires a certain measure of vulnerability and courage. You have to want to do it. Out of the three ways to be open, start with one. Pick something you know you can do and try it.
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