How to Communicate Authentically
Authentic communication is an integral component of healthy living. It means bringing your feelings and perceptions into a conversation, and it’s the only way to develop true connection with the people around you.
Let’s look at how this works in practice. Say you and your coworker share an office space, and your desks are connected in some way. Your colleague repeatedly uses a portion of your desktop for his overflowing paperwork. This has become a pattern which you need to address.
If you are an indirect communicator, you may take a subtle approach. Perhaps it’s as small as repeatedly moving your coworker’s belonging back to his desk. Maybe you ask "Are these yours?” before rearranging his paperwork.
If you are a direct communicator, you might feel bold enough to say, “I’d like you to stop putting your belongings on my desk.”
Both approaches are inadequate ways of communicating, and can lead to further misunderstandings and animosity.
Neither approach offers any insight into how you are experiencing and perceiving the situation. This does not allow your coworker an opportunity to understand you or to react in a compassionate way.
So what does authentic communication sound like?
It contains the most important layer of communication: your emotions and feelings.
If you're an authentic communicator, you might say:
I'd appreciate it if you’d not place your belongings on my desk, because it makes me feel as if my work space is not as important as yours. I know you don’t mean in that way and I really enjoy working next to you, which is why I thought it was important to establish open communication now. Please feel free to speak to me about things openly as well.
Can you see how this coworker’s reaction would be different from the first two scenarios?
Remember: direct communication doesn’t equal authentic communication. If your feelings aren't appearing in conversations, you are missing out on the benefits of authentic living.
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