Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let's Start with a Simple Conversation

Let’s Start with a Simple Conversation, Christine M. West, MS, CMHT

It’s funny as technology has advanced and we have so many means to develop our human relationship capital through communication yet we still miss connecting, hearing and communicating effectively with others. It is almost as though we have forgotten in some ways how to be human!

As human complexity has set in, we have become avoiders of simple conversation. For example, we meet people in social networks or in person and we send e-mails back and forth and believe this is efficient conversation. Or, we often mistakenly believe that the e-mail recipient has the same interpretation of our words as we intended. Too often we miss the opportunity to pay attention to pick up the phone or to meet in person to clarify the meaning of our message. And we end up reducing the opportunity to grow a relationship or end up creating unnecessary conflict and stress in existing relationships.

Our communication today has become more fragmented and more fear-based. We have become increasingly isolated from one another as we move ever faster at frantic speeds. We seek consolidation in everything, but fail to find it in one another. We have learned to embrace the new instead of noticing and appreciating what we already have. Thus we have learned to choose fear , play conflicted games with ourselves and have forgotten the true source of wellness - the connection to one another. This connection is comprised of the most powerful network of all - the human relationship system.

Many of us refuse to see that fear keeps us apart and weakens the true potential of our human relationship system. Unfortunately, we all have lists of people whom we fear. If we tried to communicate with them, it often creates a wall within us and we shut down what might be possible to learn from that person or about ourselves. We need to learn to be able to talk to those we have named our “enemy.” We need to stop manufacturing interpretations that keep us separated. We need to stop our contradictive behavior—we say we want connect with a group and then we promote harsh judgment about the members of that group. Or, we say we are open-minded and then we judge someone for being different. Or we say we are flexible yet our schedule is too rigid to allow any relationship capital to prosper.

For relationship capital to prosper, we need to create meaning and purpose in our conversations while listening to one another. If we begin to slow down and start talking about what we care about, stop blaming, stop avoiding, stop ignoring one another and stop engaging in fear-filled chitchat—well, what might we discover? We can only change and connect if we start listening and paying attention to one another while being open to share who we are. We need to be to role model and encourage simple, honest conversation in which there is no arbitration or debate, in which each of us has a chance to speak truly and feel fully heard while allowing enough space in the relationship to grow and for it to prosper.

The truth of accomplishing this type of simple conversation is that it takes time and a willingness to practice. Part of the practice is becoming self aware of our own strengths and weaknesses in our own communication style. What triggers us to put up a wall and shut others out? Practice is also about relearning our own speaking, listening and social skills. We need to slow down our minds and pay attention to the communication and behaviors that is being conveyed from us and to us. We need to hear one another without judgment so that the fragmentation and isolation can stop.

Awareness, truth and accountability start within us. Everything exists because of our relationship to it, for nothing exists in isolation. The best relationships are built on simple honest conversation.

Author: Christine M. West, TheBusinessMD, 2240 E. Tudor Rd. #976, Anchorage, Alaska, USA 99507. Phone 1-907-223-8403. Email:, TheBusinessMD offers transformational services to assist better human relationships in the workplace Ms. West is also a reporter for the National Networker