Recall a recent important conversation where you were highly emotionally involved? Perhaps a difference of opinion with a colleague, having to give feedback to someone you work very closely with or a ‘touchy’ topic with a loved one.
We have all experienced when emotions are high, a conversation can often go off track and importantly we want to be our best to speak our truth without misunderstanding.
In the moment, it’s not easy to remember a lot of “to-do’s” to help us get the best outcome from the conversation, yet there is ONE AWESOME thing that we can all do easily that will make a huge difference to our relationships.
Many people were blessed to be a learner with the masterful world expert on non-verbal communication Michael Grinder when he was in Perth last month. (Michael loves coming to Perth and has promised to come again in March 2018, so watch this space for news).
One of the workshops Michael ran was “To Love, Honour and Negotiate” a couples’ weekend retreat my beautiful husband Ted and I attended. (Michael also ran a workshop “Using Non Verbals to Effectively Manage a Difficult Conversation”)
It was at the Couples’ workshop I was profoundly reminded of the ONE BIG THING. During the workshop there was a point that I shared with the group a practice that had worked well for my husband and I in our relationship, many in the group responded with “wow that’s awesome”. Yet some didn’t hear what I said and Michael asked me to repeat what I had said. Yet when I repeated the same point, I didn’t repeat HOW I had said it, and those that heard the first time all said “Oh no, that’s not how you said it and it doesn’t have the same impact”.
How we communicate a message has a huge impact on how other people receive our message.
So, what was the ONE BIG THING? When I said my point the first time, I was relaxed and breathing low when I spoke. My message had impact. When the spotlight was on me to repeat my message, my conscious brain kicked in and quickly engaged my body and brain in the “are we okay here? Are we safe here?” conversation! In an instance, I started to breathe high and shallow, and my vocal tone changed and bingo! My credibility crumbled, I lost power in the moment as I shared my thoughts.
If you are having that important conversation and have an important point to share, remember breathe out slowly first, relax your body, then speak your truth. Your message will have a far greater impact.
More on Breathing
Breathing is the key that unlocks your ability to utilise new skills. Why ? When we breathe high and shallow, we release chemicals that produce the “fight or flight or freeze” syndrome. This is an animalistic survival mode. Literally, our bodies are temporarily stronger. When we breathe deep and abdominally, we release chemicals of calmness. This results in our ability to be rational and human, thus allowing us to be flexible.
Our bodies are prehistoric in that we often react as if the situation is life or death. We are programmed to respond to many situations as if danger and death are present — the fight or flight or freeze chemicals are released and we become instinctive. This programming causes us to drain ourselves of energy and to impede our ability to think. We want to retrain ourselves to use our brain under pressure — this updating of the body-mind connection will be a lifelong benefit.
In addition to the high and shallow versus the deep and abdominal breathing, the inhale and exhale sections of the breathing cycle affect which chemicals are released. When we inhale, we activate the fight/flight/freeze chemicals. In contrast, during the exhale we increase our calmness. If these were the only two parts of the breathing cycle, we would constantly be alternating between fight/flight and calmness (which, to some extent, we do). But there is a third phase of the process — the pause. Think of a person who is sleeping or in a deep relaxed state such as meditation. The person inhales, exhales and then there is a lull. The lull is part of the exhale process. The longer the pause between the exhale and the next inhale, the more chemicals of calmness are released. During the survival mode, the pause is non-existent. So the next time you say to someone (including yourself), “Take a deep breath. You are going to be OK,” follow that statement with, “And now take another one, nice and slow, taking your time as you exhale!”