Posts tagged ‘criticism’

Conscious Communication Matters ll By Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Communication Matters
By Dorothy Wallis

Your life is happening right now.  Will you take the opportunity to connect with those you love and care about?  Being able to communicate your thoughts and feelings is an extraordinarily high form of specialized functionality in human consciousness.  Skill is involved and many articles and books will outline all of the techniques of communication.  Yet, at the heart of worthwhile communication is the desire and willingness to connect with honesty, kindness, well meaning and love.  That can actually be a tall order.

When I ask couples “what is the biggest challenge with your partner?” the most frequent answers are, “my partner does not understand me,” “she/he doesn’t listen to what I am saying,” “I don’t know how to talk to him/her,” “I can’t get through to him/her” or just “we don’t communicate at all.”  Communication may seem like the simplest of skills and yet misunderstandings are common and can easily escalate from annoyance and frustration into fights.  Without compassionate conscious communication relationships fall apart.

Conscious Communication is not just for couples.  It is important for everyone. We are taught how to read and write however, we have not learned the basics of clear communication that expresses not only your thoughts but also the meaning and intention behind the words.  It is a skill and an art to cultivate.  If you want healthy relationships with family, friends and colleagues, it pays to be a conscious communicator.  Conflict and drama lessen.  You experience more understanding, sharing and intimacy with those you care about.  Constructive communication skills will give you confidence to express yourself clearly and give you an advantage in business or work environment.  You will attract friends and have happier long lasting relationships.

Consciously Communicate with Presence

What does it mean to Consciously Communicate?  Being Conscious is a purposeful act.  It means you are aware and present with the other person in an intentional way.  The ones you care most about are the people that you are likely to ignore or take for granted and they most likely do the same with you.  How can communication take place when there is a disconnect?

Communication is a two-way Connection.

There is always a speaker sending a message and a listener receiving it.   For a smooth dialogue to take place each person must be conscious of their part and be able to switch between roles.  It takes effort and concentration.  Think of it as a circuit that you are completing.  Both people need to actively and consciously participate.

Your Role as a Conscious Speaker 

Think about Why You are Communicating 

Are you communicating to express an idea, to relay important information, to express a thought or emotion, to share an experience, or to deepen your connection?  Are you speaking to solve a problem?

Communicate with the Intention of Connecting 

Be aware of the person in front of you.  If this is your partner or someone you care about remember your love for them.  If this is a friend or colleague, speak with kindness no matter what you are asking, talking about or discussing.  Always speak with integrity, honesty and respect.  Do you care about the impact of your words and how your words will be received?

Speak to Make things Better

When an issue arises between you and another person be honest about your true intention and purpose in speaking.  Are you speaking to clarify, to resolve the issue or dilemma, and to create a harmonious meaningful connection or are you retaliating and attacking?  Being contentious, demanding, resentful, abusive, or manipulative will alienate, disengage and create separation or worse amplify into a battle.  Is your ego involved?  Do you need to win?

Speak so People Will Understand

Great speakers are interested in the recipient and want to help them understand.  Speak the listener’s language.  It is the role of the speaker to convey the message in the clearest most concise form for the listener.  Doing otherwise would be talking just to hear yourself speak and not getting your message across.  Delivery matters.  Keep it simple.  If you go on and on you will lose the listener’s attention.

Relate Your Emotions as Well as Your Thoughts

Whether you realize it or not, your feelings are detected by those in your presence.  Allow yourself to speak the truth about what you are feeling.  Thoughts and ideas are important, yet your emotions reveal your interior dimensions in a way that thoughts cannot.  Sharing your emotions with those closest to you creates intimacy.

Notice the Sound of Your Voice

Pay attention to the tone and volume of your voice. Your personality is reflected in the tone, inflection, volume, and pace of your words and reveals your attitude as well as your mood.  Is your voice even, calm, nurturing, expressive, charismatic, persuasive, and easily understood?  Is your intention clearly expressed?  Shrill, whiny, loud, yelling, pleading, caustic, and piercing words will drive people away.  Contempt, resentment, and anger will distance others and undermine any attempts to persuade, resolve problems or create harmony.

Notice Body Language

The way a message is expressed helps the listener to receive.  Are you relaxed and engaged?  Is your body position cuing the listener that you are equal to them and not dominating them nor shrinking from them?

Pay attention to the listener.  Be present with them.  If possible, look into their eyes and notice their body language.  How are your words being received?  What does their body language say?  Are they bored?  Have they stopped listening?  Are they irritated?  Do their eyes roll as you speak?  Do you sense interest or curiosity about what you are saying?  If you are aware, you can adjust your words to help the person understand or you can stop and inquire about what is happening for them.

Your Role as a Conscious Listener

Listen with Presence

The role of the listener is just as important as that of the speaker.  Be fully attentive and curious about the speaker’s perspective.  Listen carefully to their words, take in the details and watch for subtle messages in their tone and body language.  Receive them as a fellow being with ideas, experiences, as well as struggles.

Listen without interrupting

Are you actively listening to the person speaking or are you waiting for your turn to share?  Hold onto your questions and assumptions.  Give them “the floor” and don’t interrupt.  Their perspective may differ from yours.  Difference can be exciting and sometimes turns to a sense of threat.  When you drop your ideas, open and receive their truth and honestly listen to another’s perspective, you don’t become “different.”  Antagonism drops away and a realization of the fundamental “sameness” can enter.  Their struggles don’t look different than your own.  You will reap the benefit as conscious listening soothes your nervous system.

Watch the Speaker’s Body Language

Watching the speaker’s body language will tell you a lot.  It will reveal information beyond what the words alone are saying.  Are they sharing a joyful experience?  Do their words match what their body is telling you?  A person’s words may describe being “fine” while their arms are crossed, their body slumped and their eyes gaze downward.  You sense something is off.  If you pay attention, you will notice the incongruence.  Is there more not being said?  Sense the emotions of the speaker with interest and compassion.

Listen to Understand

Be curious about their perspective instead of making judgments.  When it is your turn to speak, inquire or ask questions for clarity and to help both of you reach deeper into knowing the other. Be open to alternate ideas and viewpoints.

When someone has an Issue or Complaint Listen without Defending 

When issues or problems are brought up let go of defensiveness.  When you are defensive you are not listening to the experience or perspective of the other person.  Long explanations of your intentions give the impression that you are not paying attention to the other’s complaint or request and are only concerned with yourself.  It can sound like an excuse or that you are deflecting or invalidating the other’s experience.

Magical Tips to Improve all Relationships

Be Compassionate 

Sense what the other person is experiencing.  Have empathy and be supportive.  Help them to feel heard and safe.  If your friend or partner is hurting, they will not be at their best.  Receive their struggle and offer what you can.

Validate Other’s Emotions and Experiences 

When someone has an emotion, it is what he or she is experiencing.  It is the truth.  Whenever you tell a person not to feel or that they should not be having that feeling, you are invalidating their experience.  It is painful and causes people to question their reality.  It is dismissive and they may react with resentment, anger, and frustration.  They do not feel seen, heard or cared about.

Let go of Criticism, Blame and Retaliation 

Focus on your own issues and growth rather than on the other person’s.  Attacks, diminishment, digs, debasement, passive aggression, condemnation and threats are hurtful, harmful and mean.  It does not cause people to change.  Are you retaliating to punish them?  Resentment is destructive and creates contempt.  If you are hurt and want to understand, you can ask for clarity.  Listen with an open heart rather than assuming the worst.  You will learn more by honest inquiry than with blame.    

Give up Your Compulsion to Be Right

What is the point in being right?  Will your version of what is “right” change their truth?  Are you attempting to dominate or belittle someone with your opinion of what is right?  If you continue to batter someone with your point of view, what happens?  Are they happy that you corrected them?  Notice what it does to your relationship.  It is actually a form of violence.  Realize that there are as many differing worldviews and opinions as there are people on the planet.  Does it really matter that you went to dinner at 6:00pm on Saturday night or Friday night?  Let go of the little things.  Do you have a photographic memory of every word of a conversation?  Better to find out another’s perspective rather than berate them for what you believe is the “truth” about what they meant.  Be flexible and adaptable.  You can disagree without assaulting someone.  A difference of opinion does not make you or them less.  In fact, truly listening to different perspectives opens you up to a wider understanding of the other person.

Acceptance and Kindness create Harmony and Understanding

The more you are able to accept differences in others with kindness, the more harmony will enter your life.  The key to understanding is to relate to others as kin rather than enemies.  Everyone makes mistakes.  You will make mistakes and your loved ones will too.  Everyone has struggles, problems, times when they are up and times when they are down.  Compassion begets compassion.

Have Appreciation and Gratitude for the People in Your Life

Relationships are the most profound experiences in life.  The people that enter your world offer you a mirror into the innermost depths of you.  In the end your intimate connections with others is what you will cherish.

As you relate to others, you learn more about yourself and humanity.  Treat people as the gift that they are.  As you appreciate them with gratitude, you give yourself the gift of love.


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Unsolicited Advice: Helpful or Rude ll By Dorothy Wallis

October 2, 2018
Unsolicited Advice: Helpful or Rude
By Dorothy Wallis

  The need to “help” others or “fixing” the world and all that is wrong with it or whatever needs to be done “the right and proper way” has created a mindset amongst people with good intentions of overstepping the propriety of appropriate boundaries.  It has become commonplace for people to give unsolicited advice even about the simplest of tasks. It is almost a thoughtless reaction by some to tell a stranger or loved one what they “ought to do, should do, or how to do something.” In the mind of those giving this advice it may seem to be helpful or even done presumably from a heartfelt place.  Yet, unless done with permission, it is actually a violation of another person’s autonomy.

  Throughout my life, I have been on the receiving end of unwanted, unasked for advice and I imagine you probably have been too.  Rather than being helpful, it has left me feeling frustrated, distraught and sometimes discouraged. It seems to happen to me especially when I am involved in some physical activity that I am learning.

  Not long ago, I attended an afternoon hula class.  It may look simple, but it is actually very complicated.  There are specific arm and hand motions, along with intricate footwork and beautiful albeit difficult swaying of ones hips.  Putting all of this together is an art. The ongoing drop-in class was huge. There were the old timers that had been going for years and were very skilled, others that had recently joined and then the newbies like myself.  The instructor gave the history of the hula and then began with arm movements. He taught us a basic rotation of our hips with knees bent and then added steps. I was doing well at this point. As he progressed, he sped up the dance and I lagged behind.  I decided to concentrate on just the arms and stopped rotating my hips and doing the dance steps.

  I was having a delightfully enjoyable time gracefully following the arm movements until a lady next to me, who had a measure of hula proficiency, decided to take it upon herself to give me her advice.  “Rotate your hips,” she said sternly, “you need to move your hips, bend your knees, watch me.” The abruptness of her admonishment struck me with the feeling that I had personally sullied the hula dance.  I didn’t say anything. It stopped me in my tracks and my concentration went as well. It took me a moment to regain my composure as I ignored her and let her words fly past me.

  Receiving advice about the obvious is especially frustrating and demeaning.  It has a patronizing quality as if you are a child being told to wear your coat because it is snowing outside.  “Backseat driving” is an example. Telling a friend that has been driving for years, “You need to downshift, or upshift or get in the other lane,” feels rude and insulting.  Taking over another’s process or activity is condescending, “Here let me show you how to cut up that grapefruit.” This kind of offhand advice has an edge to it. Instead of helping another, it may be a form of dominance, an ego boost or one-upmanship disguised as helping.  A seemingly innocent comment when someone is struggling such as, “That’s why I do it this way,” may sound helpful but still signals the thought that the other is doing it wrong.  Telling someone what to do or how to do things sends the message that “I know better than you do.”  It feels powerful for the one giving the advice and can feel controlling to the one receiving it.

  Find out the underlying motivation you have to correct others or give them your opinion.  Perhaps you are critical of yourself and find that you unconsciously criticize others. Observe the effect on others and the areas you are most critical about.  What effect does your negative self-talk have on you? You may have a compulsive need to do things a certain way. Is there only one “right” way? Is it causing harm for others to do it their way?  

Let go of rigid adherence to specific ways of doing or thinking and see things from multiple perspectives. Allow others to make mistakes and allow yourself to learn new methods and experiences from them.

  Even if you truly believe you know a better way of doing something giving advice that is not asked for is usually not welcome.  Instead of being supportive, it often has the opposite effect of disheartening the receiver. When a person is having doubts about their ability, not only will they be reluctant to take your advice but they also may be inclined to stop trying to learn a new task.  If you bluntly give advice or rashly take over a task from someone, you are making assumptions about their abilities and knowledge. It is dismissive and belittling. Being controlled feels disrespectful and will often bring up a reaction of anger and stubbornness.  

Ask Permission
  If you are a person who tends to give unsolicited advice, what assumptions are you making about the other person?  Do you see them struggling and genuinely want to help them out of their frustration or do you see them as incompetent, incapable, weak, or deficient?  You may not believe they are inadequate, yet giving an unwanted opinion or attempting to fix another’s dilemma may imply it. If you sincerely want to help, ask permission to assist them.  Let them determine if they want your help or advice. There are times when taking quick action in an emergency is necessary and you can’t wait to ask. Yet, most of the time it will be apparent when you need to act and when you can take the time to assess a situation to see if your input is welcomed.  

  Recently, I was in the grocery store and turned my cart into an aisle where an elderly gentleman was stooped over and shaking all over.  He looked weak and in trouble. Instead of rushing in, I stood there for a moment and just observed him. He had a portable oxygen tank and seemed to be breathing just fine, but his shaking worried me.  I was thinking, “He looks like he needs help and no one else is around. What if he is having a heart attack?” I went up to him and asked, “Sir, are you alright, do you need help?” He turned and looked at me and replied, “No, thank you dear, I am fine.”  His speech was clear and indicated his honest desire to be left alone. He did not need or want my help. Just then a woman came around the corner into the aisle and went up to him. I assume it was his wife. She had been gathering groceries while he waited.  I was relieved and glad that I did not act hastily. He was in good hands and I did not infringe upon their privacy by asking the reason for his shaking. I respected his dignity by asking permission to assist and honoring his decision to decline.

When you ask permission, you are being thoughtful and helpful.  You are keeping your ego in check while allowing the autonomy and freedom of another.

Respecting Yourself When You Are on the Receiving End
  It took me many years when on the receiving end of unsolicited advice, to not take it personally and let the words and energy go past me without attaching to them.  If this is your story, know that you are not a helpless victim. Being triggered is normal and also points to a place inside where you are not feeling self-assured. If your self-esteem was totally confident you would either truly not care or when annoyed, you would be able to speak up and not allow someone to cross your boundaries.

Being silent while stewing inside and never speaking up is not beneficial.

  You have a responsibility to respect yourself and your friends and family by letting them know when something they are doing does not feel good to you. How else will they know when you feel intruded upon? It helps their growth as well as yours.

  It may feel awkward but when you realize your value, you will be able to trust that setting appropriate boundaries is good for you and for your relationships.  You will no longer attach to the pain of others and make it your own. Feeling upset or rejected from criticism and unwarranted advice will be a thing of the past.

  Whether you are on the giving end of unsolicited advice or on the receiving end, realize that your self-esteem is involved.  When you have healthy esteem you show respect for others and know that you deserve respect from others.

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

     

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth