Dana’s Dispatches

Why People Fear InterDependent Communication

aka How To Really Talk To Someone Effectively

This is a new section of our newsletters (or ‘missives’, since we’re using fancy words today) for you to get to know Dana, some of the ideas he talks about, and some of the ideas that get batted around in class. 

They’re designed to give you a few minutes with your thinking caps on in order to get some ideas that have really helped people in the past, and that we believe will continue to inspire people to keep reaching to become more of the best of who they are. These segments will be available in audio format in the future, but for today’s teaser you get The Printed Word.

Our Couples’ Communication Course has started, and the people in it are incredible. They’re blowing us away with their insights and honesty. We’re starting another Communication course in November, so we wanted to give you a taste of the kinds of ideas we bat around in class….

Why People Fear InterDependent Communication

aka How To Really Talk To Someone Effectively

To truly communicate clearly when you’re in a couple (or with anyone really) requires a really really refined and calibrated level of communication. That might sound like a lot of effort, but really it’s not. The only way any of that is possible is by doing in many ways the opposite of what people think communicating is about. Most people think communicating is about the reach, it’s about speaking, it’s about expression. but really what communication is about, ultimately, is listening and reception, because without that the reaches that we make, or the extensions that we make to express each other might as well be random, because if they’re not received, or we’re not open to receiving them, then they’re gibberish and they carry no weight and actually communicate nothing effective and applicable anyway.

With Colleen and myself, communication can be just as much of a challenge as with anyone else, but that challenge is worth rising to because we’re both aware of how important it is to maintain that openness in our communication and arrive in a solution to whatever we’re facing together.  We know that we can’t back down from that drive, which is anchored in the best cases in our integrity about not allowing communication that’s insincere. What that requires both of us to do is to respond completely. And without being open and receptive and listening completely, our capacity to respond completely gets greatly diminished.

What happens a lot of times, with a lot of people, is formulating our response before having fully processed the information coming in. So while I’m hearing you talk to me about something, I’ve already decided in my head what my response is going to be, where you’re wrong, why are you wrong, and why I’m right. And that’s like expecting to swallow a meal just to the middle of your chest, and think it’s going to be digested for you. It just gets stuck. And then you can’t take any more in, and you can’t process what you’ve taken in already.

So, the challenge of reaching a level of interdependence with a person, whether it’s romantic or professional or familial, is a real challenge, but a real challenge that is very worthwhile. Because in order to do it, you’ve got to be really really open, so most people don’t do it and remain either independent and on their own or codependent, which is half shut down, because they don’t want to be that vulnerable. And most people don’t want to be that vulnerable because they don’t want to be that moved, they don’t want to be that affected by the other person’s communication.

Because when we open up and we let all of ourselves respond and all of ourselves process, we have to open up to the possibility that what that person is saying to us may be very moving. And movement is anchored in the fact that something is truthful. And if it’s truthful, it’s much harder to deny. So knowing that instinctually, they stay shut off, and try to keep it very intellectual and cerebral, and not connect their emotions and their feelings to it, because those are the things that get moved, and those are the things that make you think differently about whatever it is that’s being communicated to you. And a lot of times people don’t want to think differently. They want to just enforce their rigid ideas and the ideas they’ve given power to, and the ideas that they’ve forgotten they’ve given power to, because that structure, that rigidity makes them feel safe.

Being an interdependent communicator is actually the exact opposite of that false safety and that’s why people reject it and people resist it, because you have to dismantle all those intelectual structures and open yourself up to the present moment of your emotions and feelings and take the risk of being moved by the truth. It’s the safest place to be.

It’s almost like walking across the suspension bridge- on one side you’ve got no food and the bear is chasing you, and on the other side you’ve got lodging, food, total protection, but you’ve gotta cross that bridge that feels so shaky, feels so uncertain, feels so unstable. Even though technically and intellectually, the engeneering of it is perfectly sound. You know it’s fine. But it’s the feelings that people don’t want to experience as they cross that bridge, that keep them on the other side, that keep them by the bear, which is their ego, their fear, their need to be right.

InterDependent Communication is all about running towards what’s right, even when it feel frightening. It’s all about thriving rather than just surviving.

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