When you think of communicating with someone, connecting with someone, how often does your mind go straight to speaking? How often do you rely on your words to express how youâ€™re thinking or feeling? To show support? To express your love (words of affirmation anyone?!? One of Gary Chapmanâ€™s 5 â€˜love languagesâ€™… but thatâ€™s for another happy friday!)
Now I will be the first to admit I enjoy talking, I do! And I place a lot of energy and importance to the words I am using. And yet, speaking and communicating are not synonymous.
There is a well-known study that breaks down how we tend to communicate, and what it is we are really responding to when others communicate something to us. The results are pretty interesting: 55% of our communication is conducted through body language, 38% in our tone of voice, and only 7% of what people respond to are the actual words that are being said.
After one evening program at my yoga training a few short weeks back, we were told we were going to practice what is called Noble Silence. We werenâ€™t able to speak or use technology to communicate to anyone, and were to stay in this silence until after meditation the following morning. At first I was almost distraught! We had just completed this intense exercise, and now I couldnâ€™t even debrief with my roomie?!? Yet in the end, it was an enlightening experience. And although I found it difficult at first, I took away some valuable insights and ah-has:
- Not only is communication possible without using words, but it can actually be quite powerful
- You can really see others – let others in, when you are not hiding behind the words
- Without words, I felt no pressure to say the right thing, to have all the answers, to come up with a solution to â€˜fixâ€™
- Without words, I neednâ€™t worry about how what is being said might land or be interpreted by the other party, nor about being judged or likedÂ through my words
- All of a sudden, aÂ whole new possibility for real vulnerability opens up
- You can express yourself quite powerfully through body language
- Speaking and communicating are indeed not the same thing
When weâ€™re going through good times or bad times with those around us, itâ€™s natural to want to get excited with, empathize, express ourselves, and connect with â€“ using words. And yet, consider that you donâ€™t have to say anything at all to achieve these things. You also donâ€™t have to have all of the answers. You donâ€™t have to have the winning phrase. You donâ€™t have to know how to alleviate fear or fix the situation.
You may not have all or even any of the answers; you may not have anything to say at all. And thatâ€™s okay! You can still be there for someone, connect with someone, hold space for someone, powerfully. Arguably connection on a deeper level is possible. Listen. And I mean really listen, to what it is they are saying. Listen beyond the words â€“ listen to their soul. Listen and speak, even in the silence.
Because even in silence, powerful communication is possible.
Have a FAB week, everyone!