Stressful Communications Can Lead to Health Issues!
I recently read some sobering statistics on stress at the workplace. 4 out of 5 workers (80%) are stressed due to ineffective communication at work. In fact, miscommunication has surpassed nearly all of the other forms of stresses when it comes to workplaces, family issues and societal problems. Do you know why?
The reason is that miscommunication can lead to social isolation. When we do not feel safe, we isolate. But isolation is stressful because we are wired for connection. It is no wonder that more people are reporting stress-related physical and emotional conditions in our current world climate.
What Causes Miscommunication?
- Not feeling heard
- Not listening
- Being emotionally triggered by the words someone else is saying
- Failing to realize our internal biases are filtering the words that we are hearing
- Feeling uncomfortable hearing views different than ours
- Moving into judgement
- Not really caring or feeling bored when someone is talking, so tuning out
- Feeling unsafe or fearful around others
- Failing to realize our own attitudes and emotions that create incoherence or disharmony with others
- Hidden messages that are a result of our own upbringing that might have discouraged authentic forms of expression
The list could go on and on, but I want you to keep listening so I will stop!
Our Communication Styles May Be Rooted in Our Pasts!
When I was young, there were two repeated messages that I got about communication. Both involved speaking, not listening.
One came from my mother. “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” And the other came from my stepfather, “children should be seen and not heard.” My parents meant well, but often the messages we get as children stick with us for a long time, often coloring how we live without fully realizing the implications. That is unless we work hard to move past our juvenile understanding of these themes and how they are affecting our health and life.
The message about only saying kind words has been interesting in many ways for me in my life because I try very hard to use the following mnemonic device before I speak – THINK – Is it TRUE, Is it HELPFUL, Is it INSPIRATIONAL, Is it NECESSARY and Is it KIND? However, even with this grown-up interpretation of my childhood message, there was a piece missing. Is it AUTHENTIC? Authenticity comes from our core values and our hearts. “Our heart and emotions are at the heart of good communication,” according to the HeartMath Institute authors of the book, Transforming Stress for Teens. So, if I am angry or hurt and I am only trying to say kind things, it may not come across as kind because it is not coming from my heart. In order to communicate authentically and kind, it is necessary for me to become emotionally regulated first before speaking. HeartMath helps me with that. The other part of communication can be just as troublesome and that is how to listen with your heart!
Is Active Listening Enough?
Active Listening is a skill we are taught in schools. As a teacher I practiced it a lot in the classroom. However, active listening may not go far enough to solve the deep divide we have in communicating these days. Active Listening often involves mirroring back what someone is saying which does show we are paying attention to the words. But are we understanding what is behind and beneathe the words? HeartMath’s Coherent Communication™ tool helps us to recognize when we are listening with both our ears and heart.
The steps are as follows:
Before talking or listening, we pause and breathe into our heart center, making a commitment to stay open to what we are hearing. We continually Spot Check ourselves to see If we are triggered by the words someone is saying, reminding ouselves to re-center in our heart. Finally, we confirm our understanding of the meaning of what was said by asking heartfelt questions. Here is a video I created for my teachers on HeartMath’s Coherent Communication™ tool.
Try It and Let Me Know if it Helps!
Practicing these tools over time has been shown to take the charge out of difficult communications, change our relationships with others, reduce “drama” and generally clear the air. Is it going to make you like everyone or everyone like you? Probably not, but you will be able to reduce the feelings of stress within your own body and change how you interact with others. This may lead to more social coherence and a better environment where you work, socialize, and otherwise interact with other people. If you want to know more about my HeartMath coaching and training practices, reach out!