“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” –Diogenes
Every measure of success in life stems from having successful relationships.
How is your marriage? How are your kids turning out? How successful are you in your career? Do you have close friendships and strong bonds with your parents, siblings, extended family? How well do you feel you know yourself? How much have you grown in consciousness? How connected do you feel with your creator?
For all of us, the answer to any of the above is linked to the amount and quality of our communication in that arena. Smarts, looks, creativity, wealth – none of those can take us all the way, because none of them are about how we interact with others.
Communication nourishes deep, rich, lasting personal and professional relationships. In my life, I have felt the most self-understanding and growth when I have had a regular writing practice, another form of communication. I also write to God sometimes, and like Aibileen in “The Help” it seems to be like putting the universe on speed dial. In my mind, prayer is talking and meditation is listening. As with most relationships, better to do more listening than talking.
Of course, appropriate communication is best. With babies, the Waldorf camp says to speak in rhyme and song, as they are nurtured by the sound and rhythm, not the words themselves. Warmth and truth are key components to communicating with anyone, God included. While a little sugar coating can go a long way, being false gets us nowhere.
I do not fully agree with the cliche: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Why? Because I believe it is always best to err on the side of communication.
If you are running behind on something at work or there is a glitch in a plan, write a note to the affected party, or better yet give them a call. This breeds trust, and it shows you care.
If you have a beef with your partner, TALK about it. Even if they do not like hashing things out, as long as your intent is to maintain harmony, they will appreciate it in the long run. It shows you care.
Ask questions. Of your colleagues, your kids, your mate, your friends, strangers, God. Listen to what they have to say. This helps you learn and grow, and it shows you care.
Write. Talk about your feelings with yourself. Keep a journal, or try a technique like Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones.” Your consciousness will grow like a weed.
We all go through bumps in the road. Daily. For me, whatever area of life seems to be bumpiest has to do with how much, how clearly, and how warmly I have expressed myself and how present I have been in the listening.