Being responsible for your communication involves being conscious about what and why you are communicating, and how it is received. You want to speak your truth without harming others.
Over There (with Them)
Often, people feel like they’ve expertly communicated their feelings, but more often they’ve just dumped their feelings onto another individual. What was the motivation behind their communication? Was it to help find a solution to a problem or to hurt someone in return for whatever slight they may have inflicted on them?
When you start to dig into these questions, you might notice a heart-felt confession or a time when you just needed to “get it off your chest.” You were just trying to make yourself feel better. It’s okay. It happens to all of us. We’re human. But If that’s you, stop it. Just because you can express your emotions does not mean you have to. Exercise some Self-Control.
You are responsible for how your communication lands over there, with them. Be clear and be kind.
Over Here (with You)
You are responsible for communicating your needs, wants and desires. It’s no one’s job to read your mind and figure that ish out. Be wary that your communication doesn’t turn into complaining. Complaints seep into our conversations like weeds. They don’t create, they diminish and should be spoken consciously, where it will make a difference. Always bring complaints to someone who can effect change. Otherwise, it’s just noise.
You are responsible for what you say, not for anyone’s feelings about what you say. To help you walk this line, try taking on the Buddhist principle of ahimsa, or doing no harm, or the Toltec wisdom of being impeccable with your word.
Ahimsa is defines as “respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others”. Translating this to the realm of communication, why are you saying what you are saying? Will your words cause hurt or damage once they’re spoken?
The first of Don Miguel’s Four Agreements is ”Be Impeccable with your word: speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” This agreement is loaded with goodies and is way easier said than done.
Especially hard for me, was that penultimate sentence, advising me not to speak ill of myself or to speak about anyone else at all, good or bad. Gossip is defined as casual conversation about other people. It doesn’t matter what you say, even if you think you’re sharing good news, it’s not your news to share. It’s gossip.
It was, and still is, hard not to speak ill of myself either. That includes all those little self-deprecating prologues that we say to diminish our own listening. “I’m just a girl, so…” “It’s just my opinion…” “I’m sorry…”
Lastly, the last sentence in Don Miguel’s agreement leads back to the concept of Ahimsa. So if we are not causing damage or gossiping, good or bad, what are we creating with our words? Is it worthy?