Fear holds us prisoner and hinders all communication. Anything and everything unknown to us creates anxiety. Here’s an example that illustrates this point, which might resonate in lieu of all that is happening post-Election 2016.
A woman walks into a gas station to pay for her gas. The gas station attendant is on the phone and looks to be of Middle Eastern ethnicity. Whether the woman realizes what her subconscious is doing or not, she makes a split-second judgment and profiles the man based on her past impressions of men who have dark skin. She concludes that he is likely an illegal immigrant, someone who might take a job away from deserving folks! And when the gas attendant makes her wait until he finishes his phone call, her anxiety boils over. Her fears cause her to say in a huff, “What terrible customer service! Another useless foreigner!”
There is almost no country in the world that does not have immigrants, and when all is well and there are no economic hardships, nobody seems to care about how many there are, where they work, or laws relating to them. But when we hit hard times, then everybody wants them out. This is when we get into fear-based communication because we allow fear, generalization of how we see others and irrational judgment take the driver’s seat. Mainstream media thrives on conflict and fear reinforcing our fear of others who do not fit our view of the world. This is why we love to compare “us” vs. “them” which is obviously at the exclusion of everyone else. This is just one example of how our fears and anxieties taint our relations and communications with others.
So how do we overcome this fear-based communication? Here are some steps you can take in your daily life to communicate more effectively:
Step 1. Recognize when you are coming from a fear-based perspective. When we are fearful, it is often because we do not know which category to put the other person in. That means we lack a reference point in knowing how to address the other person. This is when discomfort sets in, which turns into fear. When this fear escalates, it can turn into irrational thoughts which lead to resentfulness and hate, evidenced in the rise of hate crimes in the U.S. So, the first step is to simply watch and observe our communication on a daily basis and learn to spot when we are feeling fearful. This one step alone would hugely improve our communications.
Step 2. Understand that fear hinders effective communication. Fear stands in the way of getting our point across because when we talk or act coming from a place of fear, we usually use a very defensive tone and aggressive body language and no one likes to be addressed in that way.
Step 3. When you acknowledge fear, the fear will diminish. When we acknowledge that fear is the basis of where we are coming from, we can take a deep breath and realize we can communicate from a different awareness. Closing your eyes for a second will do the same. It’s difficult to be honest with ourselves and others when we are communicating from fear. By simply being honest about that fear, fear eventually dissipates and allows us to communicate more effectively.
Step 4: Improve communication while shifting your perspective.
After the first three steps, this last step is easy. In our verbal communication, make the other person the priority. Just by focusing on making sure the other person feels comfortable, we will see a huge shift in how they respond. And all it takes is to (a) take a step back and (b) shift our perception to look through the eyes of the other person. Make it about them. Notice their state of mind; if they look hurried, stressed, depressed, or just plain mad, remember that at least 75 percent of the population feels some of these emotions at any given time. Before you speak, remind yourself to use a kind tone with the words you are going to use and by any, means make eye contact; Look that person directly in the eyes and you will have communicated your message clearly and effectively.
Gabriella Van Rij is the leading voice of the Kindness movement. Van Rij [pronounced “ray”] is a speaker, author & activist for kindness whose presentations blend humor, original analogies and her life story to create a rare perspective-shifting experience that speaks to all. She has been seen by millions on Dr. Phil, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. ‘Watch Your Delivery’ is her third and latest book on the secrets to effective communication. Book Gabriella for a speaking engagement or request an interview: www.gabriella.global Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 1.844.888.KIND (5463)