Updated: Jun 10, 2020
Humans are wired for communication.
In the uber connected world of today, we interact not just with people who are physically around us, but with those sitting hundreds of miles away. Phone calls, zoom meetings, emails, texts, DMs, Social media...it’s virtually unstoppable.
This connection allows us to share our lives with a variety of people. But it can also be overwhelming and frustrating.
How do you handle conflict in communication? Whats the best way to interact with someone who has a different communication style than you... at work, or in personal life?
Some people’s communication style is warm and fuzzy. They respond to all messages promptly. And go the extra length to make sure their intent is conveyed clearly, as the written word can be misleading at times.
Others believe in communicating with a short 'Okay' or a curt 'Hi'. They get right to the point, skipping any pleasantries altogether.
Perhaps you are one of the above or somewhere in the middle. Do you find yourself in aggravating situations dealing with those with a different style than you?
Grown up rules are different. If we were kids and someone didn't talk to you nicely, you could go up to them, and ask, ‘why aren’t you talking to me? Or just play with them and all will be well.
But as an adult, its sometimes complicated and you can't directly address the issue.
Infact, sometimes addressing it makes it worse.
So upon reflection, I came up with 5 ways to handle my mind when communication becomes challenging. Whether you are the warm, fuzzy or the no-nonsense type, I hope these 5 ways will resonate with you. I hope they help you find peace of mind and communicate harmoniously.
5 tips to enhance communication
1. Know that your own perception may be flawed
Look at the past. Have you sometimes misjudged the intention behind a communication?
Based on our own fatigue, busyness and emotions, we misread the message and the intent. Often when I read the same message later - more rested and clear -I realize my error.
So, take a step back and evaluate your own state of mind.
Are you stressed or angry or tired? If you are, wait to respond.
Read the message again after resting and then decide what you want to do.
If you must respond or you are in front of someone, then harness the power of your breath. Take a few deep breaths taking your attention to the rise and fall of your chest and belly. If you can, close your eyes. You can respond in a few moments when you feel a little calmer.
Also if you have more time, there is a whole slew of guided meditations you can do to energize yourself and clear your mind. Explore our guided meditation classes
2. Remind yourself that they are not you.
We like to surround ourselves with people who are like us. Having someone different from you in your sphere can be disconcerting. However, recognizing that they don’t share your beliefs, and approach to life can help you drop the expectation that they should respond or connect with you in a certain way. Remind yourself that they are not you, and they will not think like you or talk like you. They are who they are, and that’s completely okay.
There is space for everyone in this world. Accepting that they are different from you is the first step in moving past the difference and finding common ground.
3. You don’t know what’s happening in their life
Sometimes people are difficult.
They mean to be difficult.
But usually it's because they are going through something difficult in their own lives. A sick child, or a broken water heater at home or an upset tummy can make them insufferable. So maybe just give them a break and engage your mind elsewhere for a while.
Again, guided meditation is a much better way of refocusing the mind, rather than distracting it with Netflix or browsing your Instagram feed. Amongst the benefits of meditation are increased empathy, compassion and kindness towards yourself and others, which can also be helpful here
4. Accept that not everyone is going to be your friend
Ultimately everyone wants to be liked & loved. Everyone wants to live in harmony with kindred spirits. That's why people find people who are like them and create a tribe.
But not everyone is going to play with you on the playground. Not everyone is going to be your friend. And that’s okay. There are seven billion other people you can make friends with. Keep moving forward.
5. Give it time
One thing I have learnt in handling difficult situations is the value of time. Instead of responding right away to a situation or message that triggers you, just wait. I've noticed that often it gets resolved by itself. Also by waiting, I give a chance to the strong emotions to temper themselves. The response is very different once I have gained my center. So next time something triggers you, just wait for some time before you respond. Even a day if possible.
Learning how to meditate can help us learn new ways to respond to new situations and people in our life. We can cultivate empathy, understanding, patience and clarity in communication.
“Purpose of words is to create silence. - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
There is an ancient saying that our words create us and destroy us. They bring us closer to people, dissolve nectar in life. They can also spoil relationships and make life tumultuous. Its not always possible to avoid conflict in life, but with awareness & skill, we can learn to communicate in a way that creates happiness and harmony within, and outside us.
Let me know what favorite strategy for good communication in comments below.