It just occurred to me how much of a switch I’ve made in my life around communication. As a child and teenager, I was a quiet, shy person who was more comfortable with math, listening and reading than talking with people. I’m still an introvert who prefers inner activities, but have learned a great deal about communication, starting with the decision in college to pursue a management degree instead of math, which was my strongest subject and comfort zone.
After training in listening, mirroring, and conflict resolution, I’ve become more conscious in my communication with people. Although none of those help when I have to give a public speech, but that’s a different post!
I’m considering making communication the focus of my work and career!
I was very inspired by an article about Kay Pranis and her work as a facilitator for people in groups. She is a pioneer in the use of circles for Restorative Justice and conflict resolution. Kay has found circles to be a powerful tool for people to bond, listen, gain more understanding and often resolve conflicts. She uses ceremonies to bring people present at the beginning and end of each session, as well as various tools and processes meant to create more conscious communication within the circles. Here is an article exploring Kay’s processes, lessons and experiences in holding a space of not knowing for her groups.
One of her tools is using a talking stick for the person who is speaking. As long as they hold the stick, they have the “floor” with all other participants focused on listening, holding space and being present. This creates a much deeper space of listening for the person talking. Often new levels of sharing and understanding are reached. I’ve experienced similar benefits in Men’s groups during my 30s. I found the talking stick to be a great tool for listening, giving respect and being heard.
After reading Kay’s interview, something clicked for me. I’ve always been a pretty good listener. In fact, as a teenager, I heard many intimate details from people who were later embarrassed by all they had shared with me. They made a point of telling me they don’t usually share that much. Each step in my life seems to be leading up to facilitating, teaching and helping people. Communication might be the best topic for me, given my years in sales, men’s groups and more recently learning to write. I’ve developed various aspects of communication.
I believe most of us have a deep need to heard, with the other person focused completely on listening, not responding, fixing, debating or rushing off to the next activity. I want to explore possible applications for circles and conscious communication that I could offer the world. I’ve learned to be a better listener and communicator, while participating in groups. I would love to help others use communication consciously to aid their understanding, compassion and connection.
I also know that communication goes well beyond verbal communication. A good facilitator holds an energetic space for the group. We’ve all experienced feeling the energy of another person or group, regardless of the words spoken. Sitting in silent communion with others is another wonderful experience. Words still play a vital part in how we share and learn about each other. I see so much conflict in the world, and wonder if communication tools might help bring people together in peace and understanding.
I would be delighted if you held space for me (or share your ideas for me) in clarifying how I might offer communication services to the world. Thanks!