Communication can be frustrating or transformational. Think back to those frustrating moments, that sense of disconnection where it seemed like you were both communicating from ‘different wavelengths’, or coming from ‘different planets!’. Communicating and relating becomes challenging when we expect everyone else to think and see the world as we do. Why? Because when we unconsciously take our view of the world to be the only view…’the truth’, we inadvertently deny ourselves the diversity and richness of other perspectives.
Did you know that we all have a unique lens through which we experience life? Our unique worldview! Our personality, level of self-awareness and consciousness influence this. Our unique lens is created from our beliefs, assumptions, history, identity and meaning that we use to filter our experience and create ‘our’ truth about ourselves, others and the world. We filter reality to match our specific lens or ‘worldview’, so actually what we experience in each moment is not reality itself, but a ‘partial truth’ of it.
That’s why we often experience frustration when communicating with others. When we take our worldview to be ‘the truth’, we deny ourselves a more expansive lens on any given situation. We say ‘no’ to the other persons partial truth, we say no to experiencing the tension that challenges us to rise beyond our own limited lens and experience a more expansive view. Fear and self-protection arise since saying ‘yes’ often challenges our deep beliefs and assumptions that we’ve held onto mostly since our childhood – the ones that don’t always serve us in our more complex adult lives.
Our opportunity for growth arises when we recognise our truth as partial. Only then do we give ourselves permission to think, feel and consider another’s perspective as if it were our own…to hold their partial truth along-side ours. Holding another’s truth doesn’t mean we need to agree with it or align with it. What it does is give us more awareness and choice to expand or update our lens.
Embracing other worldviews in this way moves us from frustrating to transformational communication, because we create stronger connections and trust with others and we make more informed decisions. We permit ourselves to lean into the tension of competing views, transform our communication and behaviour, becoming more creative, collaborative, innovative and wise.
Expanding our unique worldview takes courage and self-awareness since it requires us to challenge our habituated beliefs and assumptions (e.g. I must win, I must be right, capable, I must be accepted, loved and perfect). When we take on this challenge, what we find is a deeply fulfilling and transformational communication experience. Because we see more of any given situation and less restricted by limiting beliefs, our relationships, work and parenting strengthen, and our strategic thinking, decision-making become deeply informed and effective.
Are you ready to move from frustrating to transformational communication? Our five step process provides a useful guide:
1. Recognition: Recognise during your communication, that your worldview is a partial truth of the situation you are experiencing. Notice the beliefs, assumptions and meaning you’re making about the situation that have you thinking, feeling and speaking a certain way. Notice what you are paying attention to. Ask yourself ‘what would be at risk to me if I accepted this other worldview?’ What is the positive intention of me seeing the situation this way? What does it give me? How could it be that another truth is also be possible here?
2. Permission: Do you give yourself permission to fully experience a worldview that challenges your own? Are you willing to sit with any tension that arises and choose courage over comfort as you see this other perspective as if it were your own? Are you willing to put aside judgement and embrace curiosity?
3. Empathic Listening: Acknowledging and counting your own worldview, set it aside and step fully into the other persons. See, feel and hear the situation as though you are the other person, experiencing the situation from their lens. As you become them looking back at you what are you thinking, feeling, saying to yourself? What are you paying attention to? What is true for you?
4. Observation: Holding both your own and the other persons truth, accepting both as partial, step back from the situation, from the ‘you’ and the ‘them’ and become the observer. To do this, imagine you are a fly on the wall observing the situation. What do you notice about the communication? What might be the common point of care that unites these partial truths?
5. Awareness: What new awareness do you have? How has this influenced your view of the situation, of the other person? As you consider both partial truths together, what perspective do you take on that? What has changed?