Are you open to the possibility that the way you are communicating may need some updating?
Are you open to the possibility that there may be myths about how communication works?
What if I was to tell you that communication is not something that another person does TO you?
Does any of this sound familiar?
He makes me so mad!!
She makes me feel ugly.
He says the meanest things to me!
I wonder why she is ignoring all my texts. She must be really mad at me!
Most people view communication as having a sender and a receiver.
The sender creates the message, sends it in their language to the receiver.
The receiver then decodes the message exactly as it was sent and poof…communication has happened.
Communication is simple, right?
Communication is nothing more that the transmission of a verbal or nonverbal message from one person to another.
Is it really that simple??
Maybe, IF there wasn’t body language, misinterpretation, mixed messages etc.
But there is.
Maybe it’s time we took a different look at how communication is actually supposed to work.
Communication can be empowering.
Empowered communication involves skills and approaches that facilitate the flow of ideas and the growth of social connections. It allows individuals to feel understood, respected, and wanted in the conversation.
Empowered communication means that every person is actually responsible, let me say that more clearly…response-able.
That means you are able to choose your own response in any situation.
That does feel empowering, doesn’t it!
We are never the victim of what someone verbally throws at us.
When we view our communication through the lens of empowered communication, the receiver has the most power, not the sender.
There is a moment of choice when you, as the receiver, gets to choose what the sender is communicating.
In other words, the power is NOT in what is said… it is in how what is said, is received.
Do you see the difference?
The receiver holds more power!
When you take a moment after someone says something to you and make an interpretation of what was said, instead of just reacting, you have power.
Not power to use against the sender, but power to decide how you choose to receive what was said.
When you give up this power of choice and decide to blame instead, you have given up all power.
If you really think about this, more often than not, we don’t receive what is said to us in the way it was meant.
I’m sure you can come up with lots of examples of when someone received something you said in the opposite way that you meant it.
Even though it happens in a split second, all of our past experiences, our current mood, whether we’re hungry or tired, etc, all influence the way we receive communication.
Texting has made this even harder.
You can’t hear or see a person when they are sending a message.
This can work in our favor as well, and gives us a longer moment of choice, it usually makes it so we have no idea how the communication was intended.
Believe it or not, it’s not what your spouse says or doesn’t say that matters, it’s you that determines what it means.
It’s much, much easier to blame the other person for what was said.
And most of us don’t even realize that we have a choice.
We think what was said forces us to receive it.
NOPE. It’s what we decide to believe about what was said that gives it meaning one way or another.
Let’s consider an example:
You walk in the house after a long day at work. You are an hour later than you said you’d be home.
Your spouse greets you with, “Where have you been? Thanks for wanting to spend time with us!” and then walks out of the room.
If you were to choose the outdated version of communication, you could choose to believe that you have no power in this situation. You have no power to reinterpret what was said because your partner doesn’t care at all about the kind of day YOU had. You are forced into reacting to what was said and trying to defend why you were late. You have to act like a jerk because your partner was a jerk first!
This results in a fight that happens to couples all over the world.
Because you were judged, now you get to judge right back!
You don’t feel understood so now you don’t have to understand either.
Totally justified, right????
You may have a completely understandable reason for being late, but based on the reaction you got from your spouse, it doesn’t really matter right now, does it?
If you begin to let yourself think that you have been attacked, you now have the duty to attack back, you have to stand up for yourself.
But what if you decided to use your character instead?
What if you stopped the normal way of thinking, and decided to use this moment of choice to become empowered instead?
What if you decided instead to interpret the way you were greeted as a way that your spouse is reaching out to be understood for what has been happening on the other side of the door?
Asking yourself why the reaction was happening, could lead to wondering if your spouse had a hard day too.
Maybe the kids were horrible!
Maybe dinner took a lot of work and now it was cold because you were late.
Maybe there is a deeper need that hasn’t been met.
When you take the moment of choice to interpret what is happening and then making a more thoughtful response, empowered communication begins to happen and everyone is better off.
In the Empowered Communication approach, communication becomes a process we create together instead of something we do to one another.
We begin to want to communicate in a way that creates something that didn’t exist before and creates deeper connection.
Don’t forget that you always have that moment of choice, when YOU, as the receiver gets to use your character to decide what the sender meant. That’s the power of Empowered Communication.
Take the advice of a young child who responds to a bully on the playground,
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
When you are an empowered communicator, you can truly change the direction of any conversation by re-framing it in a healthier, or more positive way.
I challenge you to find ways to become a more empowered communicator in your relationships today. Look for ways that you can stop yourself from reacting before you choose to see what is happening from both perspectives.
I would love to hear your experiences with this! Send me an email at email@example.com and let me know what happened! You could leave it as a review for this podcast too. Encourage others to become empowered communicators and we can all benefit from the results.