How Watching Our Language Make Us Better Communicators
Many times we talk about communication as the foundation of all relationships. What we don't talk about is the power of language itself. Language and all its act aspects have an enormous impact not only on the conscious mind, but on the unconscious mind. Dr. Masaru Emoto Hadi demonstrated the power of consciousness, language and intention in a very powerful documentary called "Messages From Water". What he demonstrated is that thoughts and words have a clear impact on the crystal formation of water once frozen. When the thoughts were positive and empowering, the crystals formed were beautiful and organized. When the thoughts were critical and condescending, the crystals formed by the water where chaotic. I mention this to demonstrate that the study has been replicated several times, and I mentioned this to demonstrate that if we are by volume 80% water, how do you think our language affects our cellular function? So, language and communication is not simply important for surface level interaction, it has a more deeply ingrained impact into our subconscious mind down into the cellular function. A good example is how stress and emotional distress can manifest physically via conditions like hypertension, migraine headaches, hormone imbalance, and more. When we began to become more mindful of our language, then we have the potential to be better partners, practitioners, and healers. There are six things to begin to think about on a daily basis in your communication.
- First Seek to Understand - Ask a question before making suggestions - many times we as physicians are quick to make our suggestions and recommendations. After all, that is our job and what we have been trying to do, and there's nothing wrong with that. However as earlier said if we have not gotten the patients model of the world, our suggestions may simply be noise to them. So imploring this principle of seeking first to understand reminds us to get the world of the patient and speak into that while making our recommendations. The patient will feel heard, understood, appreciated, and will greatly appreciate you, and be willing to follow recommendations that even they were hesitant or afraid to follow before.
- Remember that the spoken word is only 7% of communication - Body Language, Tonality, etc - have you ever been speaking with someone and noticed that the word that was coming out of their mouth are not congruent with their body language? This is the importance of paying attention to language other than verbal. we communicate via tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, movements, and micro facial expressions. While you may not be expertly trained in this discipline, you can begin to notice as you are speaking with people, what their words are telling you versus what their body language is telling you. Similarly, you can start to notice if you are congruent and your communication. If you are pissed off or annoyed, and speaking with the patient. Even though you are trying to be nice, your body language facial expressions and even tone of voice will show through any nice words that you use. So if you know that you're feeling angry, frustrated, or annoyed prior to going into a patient room, wouldn't it be better to stop, take a breath, and take whatever measures needed to calm yourself down before dragging that into the next patient room and trying to fake nice. Because the truth is you won't be hiding anything. Similarly instead of trying to bullshit a patient (or brushing them off with condescension) when they ask you something that perhaps you don't know the answer to and ends with yes, we don't know the answer to everything), try just letting them know that you need to look that up and get back to them, or just think that you don't know but you know someone who does and you can refer them. Yes, I know that those are harsh words, however I know this happens in our community as I've seen it firsthand, and I commonly get patients who have experienced it as well.
- Listen to the words coming out of your own mouth - The words that come out of your mouth are a direct representation of the thoughts happening in your head. Even if you try to filter them, the message comes through. Have you ever been physically impacted by something someone close to you has said? Even more so, when you have received unexpected bad news, or even unexpected good news, there's a physical initial reaction. While the words that we speak may not be able to physically hurt anyone, if we are not responsible for the words coming out of our mouths, we could create unintended injury without even realizing it. I don't mean to say that we should suppress our expression. Nor am I saying that we need to be responsible for someone else's interpretation of or reaction to our expression. I am simply saying that we could be cognizant of how our words impact the people we are speaking to so that we can be mindful that are speaking. We need to be not only responsible for our expression, but how that expression may land with others. I call this responsible speaking.
- Listen BEYOND the words coming out of THEIR mouth - similar to responsible speaking, there is responsible listening. Many people aren't always cognizant of what is coming out of their mouths, so in being a powerful listener we can begin to listen beyond the words that are being spoken to us. That doesn't mean we might need to read, or make unnecessary interpretations. But when you are truly listening, you can not only get the communication that's happening verbally, but you can get all of the other communications that are happening but either support the verbal language or are incongruent with what is being spoken. You can actually get the commitment behind the words that are being spoken by listening beyond just the words that are coming out of their mouth. When you become effective in responsible listening, then you can comprehend and get the word of another. Why does this make a difference? As physicians we often complain about noncompliant patients. Consider that our patients may be noncompliant because we are not getting their word… we are not fully listening to them. When we start to listen to our patients beyond what they are speaking to us, we will better be able to understand the ideology of their conditions and that's the way of effective treating, managing, and healing them.
- Listen for what is NOT being said - this is similar to listening behind the words. When someone is talking to you, we are mostly listening to what is being said. But it's a powerful skill to learn to listen to what is not being said. What's in the space that you can feel that is being stepped over? I know that you've experienced this. We often call it the elephant in the room phenomenon. When you listen for what's not being said either because of fear, or the assumption that it won't make a difference, you can address the thing that could make the difference between a patient taking your recommendations or not.
- Hold empowerment as the goal - this really is the over arching thing. When we hold empowerment as the goal, we are more likely to listen beyond the words, seek to understand, be mindful of what we are saying to others, and watch and be mindful of our body language. We are likely to be more congruent in our communication as our intention again is to empower not just to get a point across. Holding the space for our patients is probably more likely to be more congruent in our communication as our intention again is to empower not just to get a point across. Holding a space of empowerment for our patients is likely one of the most important tools that we can learn as healers. There is a saying that I love "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". You may have heard this in other articles, however it's such an important principle that when we get it, we will get the full value and satisfaction of what it's like to see the lightbulb go on as we empower the people that we're impacting on a day to day bases.
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