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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

14 ways to deepen your communication and have better relationships in work and life

One of the facets of the success trap is disempowering communication (blaming, shaming, self-victimising, etc). These are (survival) habits of communication that seemingly protect us from pain but, in reality, cut us off from our real power and freedom to act. It might be a particular person, type of relationship or specific environment that sets off the alarm and triggers your inner-security system. Perhaps it’s a co-worker you find irritating, a place that brings up unease or even your family… “You think you’re enlightened? Go spend a week with your family” Ram Dass. KNOW YOUR INNER-SECURITY SYSTEM For an illustration of the disempowering roles you might take on when your inner-security system/defence mechanism is triggered, you may remember the Karpman drama triangle and, its reverse, the empowerment triangle - both of which you can find online. Having a sense of when you’re inhabiting a disempowering role (the persecutor who is always shouting, the victim who is always blaming, etc) will already help you interrupt any unhelpful patterns. Choosing a healthier response to get you where you really want and feeling peaceful and grounded again (even in the midst of a difficult situation), will then be easier to achieve. LISTEN LONGER, LISTEN DEEPER, MAKE SPACE. In a sense, the overarching principle is to listen better. The challenge most will find is whether to listen to yourself or listen to the other person… Until the ability to play at the boundary between oneself and another - letting it dissolve and return intermittently - is well practised, this overarching principle is too vague. So here are 14 principles that work for my clients on their journey to greater freedom in their work and relationships. Some of the more advanced principles are based on the non-violent communication framework (I regularly recommend the book). In a coaching process, we tend to work with one principle at a time, so I suggest choosing the one that makes the most sense to you and working with it consistently over a period of 4 – 6 weeks. Below is an ad hoc video I made over the weekend, if you want to hear a bit more about each principle. (The timestamps refer to the relevant point in the video.) They’re more or less in increasing order of difficulty, meaning the later ones require more practice and more self-awareness. 1. Stop comparing (min. 1.36) 2. Stop judging (min. 2.54) 3. Stop planning your response (min. 3.34) 4. Breathe (min. 4.48) 5. Get comfortable with silence (min. 5.29) 6. Get Comfortable with discomfort (min. 1.36) 7. Facts not fiction (min. 6.32) (Describe what you see not your interpretation) 8. Articulate your deeper need (min. 9.46) (Avoid blame and tune into the need) 9. Listen for the deeper need (min. 14.18) (Differentiate between a stated need e.g. “I need you to talk to me” and a deeper need e.g. “I need to feel safety and connection” or “I need information”) 10. Turn complaints into requests (min. 15.51) 11. Don't use threats lightly (min. 16.59) 12. Listen with your whole body (min. 19.05)

(About 93% of communication is non-verbal! Listen to what’s beneath the words using all your senses with a fierce love attitude) 13. Observe don't absorb (min. 16.59)

(You don't have to feel people's feelings to show compassion) 14. Balance connection with facts (min. 22.04) Use good timing and try and sense which focus of conversation is more appropriate (facts or connection). Legend in the making: Dr N, a client and a fiercely loving and independent lady who changes the lives of her patients bravely took a leap outside her comfort zone. She took the risk to show what she was truly feeling and name her deeper needs to her family, having previously put others needs first and ignoring her own. The reflex of hiding her feelings and trying to control or manage situations when she felt intense emotion started to abate. This gave her a much deeper sense of connection to herself and her loved ones, as well as more ease and clarity in her decisions. This takes extraordinary courage. This is true strength. So proud. This change (inner and outer) illustrates what it would look like to have worked with #6 (getting comfortable with discomfort) and then bringing in #8 (articulating the deeper need) on a foundation of mindfulness/self-awareness. The self-awareness foundation means you can pause and breathe before falling into old habitual traps when you’re in a challenging situation. As ever, there’s so much more to you than you can imagine. So much power, beauty and peace just a calming breath or two and a little wisdom away. Have a great week, Amina

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