Even in the most developed countries in the world, communication is largely underdeveloped. We are communicating more rapidly than ever via texts, social media, phone conversations and email volleys. Yet, how often do you feel deeply heard and understood? Is communication more energizing or draining for you? Do you notice how the different ways people listen or communicate with you affects how you feel?
We each communicate in many ways beyond words. Our body language, facial expressions and even how we breathe sends information to the people we are with. Whether or not you are aware of it, you are highly sensitive and perceptive. When I am coaching couples, I often ask each of them how aware they are of their partner’s body language and signals. At first, many people do not realize how sensitive and perceptive they actually are, until they slow down and observe a bit more. What becomes obvious is how often they are responding or reacting to their partner’s body language and emotional state more than what they are saying.
In a long term relationship, communication is the bridge that allows for the exchange of goods between two villages. If you do not have a strong bridge, it becomes difficult to cross over the river of separation when you have valuable resources to share.
To facilitate more heartfelt communication for our in-person interactions with the people we care about most, we need to consciously practice. All beautiful things in life like art, music and acrobatics are built on a lot of practice. Here are some ways that you can feed your relationships by communicating more consciously and deliberately:
Tell your beloved how important they are, often.
No matter how sure you are of someone’s love, it’s always nice to be reminded of it. Think of expression as giving a gift of beautiful fragrant flowers. Allow for creative impulses of love to move through you and pass them on in creative ways.
Loving someone and having them love you back is the most precious phenomenon in the world, and it should be expressed as such. When you truly love someone, be loving in words and deeds every single day. Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and proactive with your expression.
If you appreciate someone today, tell them. If you adore someone today, show them. Hearts are often confused and broken by thoughtful words left unspoken and loving deeds left undone. There might not be a tomorrow. Today is the day to express your love and admiration.
Communicate your feelings openly.
Your parents may have told you that it’s not what you say but how you say it that counts. This can be true in a professional setting, but, when it comes to your closest relationships open, honest transparency is necessary.
Express how you truly feel. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Give the important people in your life the information they need, rather than expecting them to know the unknowable. Express your fears, tears, doubts, and insecurities. Let your loved ones experience YOU. Have the courage to be yourself in front of them and trust their ability to be there for you.
Relationships flourish when both people are able to share their innermost feelings and thoughts about themselves and each other. To be fully seen by someone in raw form and be adored, anyhow, is what love is.
Speak the truth.
As a wise man once said, I tell the truth because it’s the easiest thing to remember. Living through a facade puts an incredible burden on your emotional well-being. Speaking the truth even, and most often, when it hurts, frees mental space. It also increases your ability to connect with the people you care about. Keep in mind that a large part of such openness requires taking personal responsibility for your wrong doings. If you know, for instance, that your actions or words have hurt a loved one, you must immediately take ownership of them.
If you live for the truth now, you will find comfort and peace in the end. If you live for comfort and peace now by avoiding the truth, you will get neither comfort nor peace nor truth, only wishful thinking to begin, and lasting regret in the end.
Ask thoughtful questions and listen intently.
Too often we underestimate the power of a thoughtful question and a listening ear that is fully present and focused. Although it is a simple act, it may very well be the most powerful act of caring, one which has the potential to turn a life around.
And once you inquire, be sure you listen to understand, not to reply and hear yourself talk. Often, a reply isn’t even necessary. Listening is a sincere attitude of the heart. It is a genuine desire to be with another, that both attracts and heals, perhaps without ever saying a word.
Let your actions speak for themselves.
Actions often speak much louder than words. When you love someone you have to act accordingly. They will be able to tell how you feel about them simply by the way you treat them over the long-term.
You can say sorry a thousand times or I love you, as much as you want. But, if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true, they aren’t. If you can’t show it, your words are not sincere.
And remember, it’s not so much about how much you do for your loved ones, as it is about the love you put in to what you do for them. Learn what matters most to them and make a habit of it.
Go beyond words with your touch.
The power of touch speaks much louder than words. If it is ever difficult for you to express how you feel, then reach out with your hand and touch in a way that speaks for you.
Touch has a lasting memory. Sometimes reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a beautiful journey. Sometimes a long hug speaks louder than all the words in the world. Sometimes your lips can’t accurately articulate what you mean without using them to kiss. And sometimes, quite frankly, a moment of touching is the difference between hopeless despair and the ability to carry on.
Physical touch can make or break a relationship and can communicate respect or ridicule. Some of us require touch more than others. Some physical interaction, be it a hug, a handshake, a pat on the back, or otherwise, is important in your closest relationships.
There is an invisible web of subtle connection between people we care about that has us exchanging information and energy all the time. My former wife would often notice that about 20 minutes before I came home, my dog Kiva would get up and wait for me. Kiva could sense that I was on my way home like clockwork. This is true for all of us. We feel the intentions and thoughts of others across the oceans and over mountains. So when you send that next text message, add a little intention or a wave of care and see how it goes.