Communicating With IntentionFeb 21, 2023
If you are an average human being you're dealing with other people, whether it be your kids your spouse, your partner, your team members, your clients, and so many people you're trying to communicate with. But what does it actually mean? Because a lot of times we think communication, I say something, the other person hears it, but how many people have tried to do that and hasn't worked out that way?
I say something, and the other person hears it. What they hear might be very different than what you're saying. And that's why I want to go into it and, and just kinda deconstruct it a little bit to get us to start thinking about communication in a deeper way because there are a lot of layers to communication that we might not realize.
So the first one, actually, understanding communication will help as well. What is communication? Well, first of all, communication is a way too for us to connect with each other as human meetings, to understand each other, to understand what we might need or to express ourselves that this is what we might need or this is how I feel, or this is what I want from you in this context, or whatever that is.
And if you understand that like we've developed this amazing thing called language and language is incredibly complex in itself. But when you actually look at overall communication, it's about 7%. The words are about 7% of what is actually communication. Much of it is, I want you to go back to those moments when you're about to say something to somebody, but you are feeling frustrated or you're feeling angry and you're saying all the right words, but it's not being received and the way you want it to receive, or you, you are on the other side of it.
Somebody else is frustrated and they're trying to say something, but you hear something completely. You're like, oh. And you will notice that a lot of communication is actually through our body language, our tonality, through our gestures. It communicates different things. And then you add the complexity of language on top of it becomes very, very difficult at times to communicate.
So it's not a simple game of, Hey, this is what I'm telling you, and that's what the other person hears. Now in some simple things that might be the case, like, Hey, hand me the. This thing and that we both agreed that this is a headphone, can you hand me the handphone? That might be something very simple, but something that might be a little bit more complex where you're trying to express how you feel about a situation that might not come out as simple and straightforward as that.
It might be perceived in all sorts of different ways. So understanding that communication in itself is very complex, to begin with, and we'll go into why that is. But the other side of it is intention. So the intention is incredibly important if you look at influence across the board. So for example, those we have quite a bit of data, data around high performers.
So if you're looking at the top 15% of the world's highest performers, one of the things that they repeat all the time to themselves and they have an intention for whatever they go into. Relationships are one of those. So if they're starting their day, they're starting their day with intention, they're setting intentions for, Hey, this is how I'm gonna show up today.
Like was saying it was a good day. Maybe it was from an intention, maybe it wasn't. They're looking forward to certain things on that day. They're looking forward to showing up in their work a certain way. They're looking forward to showing up and connecting with somebody in a certain way. So, for example, I have certain words for my relationship that I've learned to set an intention around, which might be like, I wanna be more accepting of people.
I want to connect with people. That's my priority. I want to create inspiration in that conversation or in that connection point, whether that comes from me or from them. So those are my intentions for relationships. I want to be accepting. I want to connect and I wanna bring inspiration into that space.
Now, what that means is that we're bringing our conscious mind. That means that we want to create a situation that is by design, by we want to create an ideal situation. But if we don't have that, what ends up happening is human beings revert back to their automatic state. And the automatic state depends on a lot of things.
It depends on your background as a human being. where were you born? How did you grow up? How were your parents? How were your teachers? What context of life did you grow up in? What kind of social demographic were you in your gender? So many things come into that piece, and that's about 95% of how we show up.
Is that we bring all the automatic training that we grew up in, into every situation. So if that was net positive, we'll be generally positive. If that was net negative or very negative, we'll show up very negatively, or other people will perceive us very negatively. So then what is the remedy for that, and a big part of what we do here is to step back and notice what is my intention in showing up in the world.
How do I ideally wanna show up? And that ideal is gonna be really important. What does ideal look like in terms of me being a husband or me being a wife, me being a father, or me being a business partner? What does that look like to me? And if once you understand what that ideal is. So for example, I wanna be a husband and I wanna show up with trust and connection with love.
With respect. And if I'm intentional around that, if I know that those are my intentions, then I'll be more aware of how my words are coming out. I'll be more aware of my tonality. I'll be more patient in a lot of ways. And the idea is that as you become more and more intentional, you are actually training your mind to do that in the future automatically.
So you're not relying on whatever environment you grew up in, you lived in bad, positive, or negative. You are creating the intention based on the idea that you want to create. This is why we walk through the vision, is because part of your vision is, how do you want to show up in the world. What do you want to create?
Whether that's for you, your family, or the world around you. And so when you combine intention with communication, you're doing a couple of things. Once you are not allowing the automatic negative to show up in relationships. Which is hard to do. So it doesn't mean that just because you're intentional, it will happen every time, but you are more likely to connect positively with people if you show up with intention.
This is with the assumption that we all grew up with positive and negative and none of us will come into this world with everything positive. I can be incredibly judgmental at times even though this is part of my training not to be judgmental, but in my personal life, I can be that I can be critical sometimes.
Because I grew up here and there is a lot of criticism, that's what I grew up in. And part of that is as human beings we can be critical as well. So part of it is our nature. Part of it is the environment we grew up in. But then once you start to take accountability, you understand that you have a certain amount of control over your mind.
You can train it to be a certain way. And that starts with intention. Now I wanna kind of break down a couple of things around communication. So a lot of people, whenever we're trying to communicate something if somebody comes to you and they're sharing, especially if it's a complex thing. Let's say you're working on a deal as an investor and have a team working on it.
One person is focused on capitalizing, and the other person is focused on something else. The other person is focused on something else. And you're dealing with challenges and somebody's sharing that, Hey, I'm working through this thing, but you're feeling negative about it. Or let's say they're saying something where you feel like, oh, they're not doing enough work in that space, or they don't have the skillset in that space, or they're not being forthright.
How do you deal with that? Well, first of all, the fact that you're feeling that is very important to notice. we'll talk about the emotions and needs in a bit. A lot of people, they hear, including me, hear something and we think that that's the reality. But that's not reality. That's just the reality that we hear based on our past.
And that part is very important. And this perceptual lens. So we all have a perceptual lens, which means that the perception that we have. Subjectively is highly dependent on the kind of experience that we went through in our life. It depends the kind of on the kind of family where we grew up in, and the kind of circumstances we grew up in.
For example, I can tell you there are certain patterns that emerged. So I came from a third-world country. I grew up in a partially war-torn country. My family came from there. So there are certain dynamics that show up in my family that don't show up in your family. Just from that context, but it could be, somebody could be from a single-parent home, that's a very different dynamic.
Somebody could be the oldest child versus somebody could be the middle child. Somebody would've been bullied at school versus somebody who has not been bullied, somebody who would've had a lot of opportunities versus somebody who is not. All that stuff shapes our perception of how we look at the world.
So first of all, noticing, and having the awareness that my perception will be different than yours. There will be some commonalities, but there are a lot of differences that we might assume at that moment. So when somebody's saying something, it's entering our ears and it's going into our perceptual filter, and then we're understanding something based on that
and then we're saying it back, and this is where you see a lot of miscommunication because even people who grew up in the same family have differences. Think about your conversations with your siblings. Think about your conversations with your parents. This is a very, very important point to understand because once we get that, then we avoid assumptions.
So one of the ways that you can do that is really cool tool. Actually, it's part of coaching as well. If somebody says something, you'll be like, Hey, this is what I hear. Is that what you mean? That might be a really good way of repeating back what somebody is saying, Hey, and that could be words or that could be a thing.
So what I feel is that you're frustrated. That's what we call kind of active listening, that you're, you're listening not. Not with the intention to respond, but with the intention to understand the other side. You're listening with the intention to try to understand the other side. And why is that important?
I want to go into that because It doesn't matter where you go around the world one of my favorite teachers in this Dr. Marshall Rosenberg invented this method called Nonviolent Communication. There's a book on it and there are workshops online as well. I definitely encourage you to look into that.
One of the best observations that I've seen and tends to work the best with my clients who are in relationships, like when I'm doing couples coaching, one of the best tools that I've had is to bring his model. And his model is based on two things, emotions and needs. And this is the part where once we get it, we understand that first of all, human beings are emotional beings.
We're not logical beings. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman. It's just that we express those emotions differently. So what that means is that we look, we understand the world through how we feel a lot of times. So as an example, if I wake up and I feel good about my life, I might have a different way of approaching it, versus if I wake up and I feel hopeless about my life.
But in both cases, there's an emotion attached to that. Now you can argue and say that some of those emotions are in your control. Some of those are, are not. It doesn't actually matter in this context. It means that for every human being in the world, it doesn't matter where you come from. This is our baseline, which is that we come with emotions and then we come with needs, and when we're talking about intentional communication, what we're trying to understand is what does this person feel?
And what does this person need at this moment when we're trying to understand communication with the intent to understand, not with the intent to just respond, which requires active listening, which requires a lot of energy to try to understand where this person is coming from?
What's their perceptual filter? What's my perceptual filter, and how can we come to a common ground? One of the best analogies for that is that think of like usually people think of communications that you have this thing, like a piece of a ball. You throw it at the person, and that person catches it. There's a term for it, but I forget it.
So that's what most people assume. Communication is as simple as that. I throw this and the other person catches it, but in reality, imagine this to be like play dough. Like a moldable thing, and it's a game of catch. Every time I throw it to you, first of all, it gets the shape changes, and then you throw it back to me.
And then every time you throw it back and forth, the shape keeps changing. And usually where you come to common ground is a mix of effort on both sides. So that's why listening with the intent to understand actually requires a lot of energy because you're actually trying to understand what this person feels in that moment and what they need.
And I wanna give a couple of examples of that. So I talked a little bit about emotions. So what that means is that every human being, it doesn't matter where they are, if you, in any given moment, if you ask them, depending on how in touch they might be in terms of their feelings, cuz some people might have negativity around that.
But if you just simply just go, like talk to the people around you, how do you feel in this moment? They will respond. It might take 'em a little bit to notice that and be like, okay, I feel normal. I feel excited. I feel content. I feel nervous. I feel anxious.
I feel afraid. They will give you a spectrum of those emotions because that's within us, and emotions are very interesting because What they are is the label that we give to the energy that we feel in our body. So it's not the concept, it's an actual biochemical reaction happening in your body. That's why when I walk my clients through this stuff if I ask them what they feel, they can usually pinpoint where they feel it in their body.
There's an association to where they physically feel it. One of, so for example, if you talk to people who've gone through physical trauma, One of the hardest things for them to do is connect to their emotions because that's connected to their bodies. Because they have so much pain associated with their body, they can't connect with their emotions.
They don't know how to feel. But most people, even if, if they've gone through trauma, can identify usually what they feel. So when you're in a conversation, you're looking for what the other person is feeling, what they're trying to communicate with that feeling. And they might be using words, but they're trying to communicate those words, those feelings through words.
And it's a very hard process to do because our experience of emotion is much more expansive than words can usually communicate. And then the needs and this part is really, really crucial. So we understand certain needs. For example, we understand the need to eat food. Does everybody agree that we have a need to eat?
Right. We have a need to drink water. We have a need for safety for physical safety. We have a need, for example, to be loved as human beings. It's not just a good thing to have, for example, kids, if they're, we know that if they're not touched early on in their life as they're born, they could potentially die.
We're not just talking about getting sick, but they could potentially die. So like just the human touch for babies is survival so we also have a need to be seen for who we are, like our authentic side. We have a need to be heard as in somebody can hear us. We're not unimportant completely.
We have a need to be understood as human beings. These are all needs. They're not good things to have. It's just that the effects of them show up later on. For example, we have a need to eat. But we can go without eating for close to a month, and then it's a survival challenge.
But we can wait for a while before we eat and we'll be okay. But we feel the effects of it right away. After two, or three days, we start, if anybody has done any kind of fasting, they know that it's hard in the beginning. You go through headaches, you go through pain stomach pain, and so many things until your body gets accustomed to them, we have a need for water.
I mean, we can survive without water for about three days. We have a need for sleep, but we might be able to survive without sleep for a little while. Now, these other needs are very similar. We have an emotional need to be understood, to be heard, to be seen, to be supported. The effect takes a little bit longer to show up, but they're there just like the effect of food is, shows up longer than the effect of water.
It's a little bit lower on the hierarchy of basic needs. But put somebody in a situation, a human being, in an environment where they're not heard or seen for about three years or two years, or five years or 10 years, you will start to see that human being behaves in very negative ways because their survival is in danger at this point.
And how do we know this? Well, as human beings our biology understands that our survival depends on connection with other people. This is why conformity is such an easy thing to do because we're driven towards conformity. Like whatever the crowd does, we will do it because our survival depends on us as far as our biology is concerned.
This is why they say that it takes courage to go against the crowd. In fact, the opposite of cowardice might be no, I'm saying it completely wrong. The opposite of courage might be conformity in a social context because it's very easy for us and it's usually, it's very hard for people to say, well, no, no, this is what I believe in.
This is what I need because it triggers all sorts of stuff in our system. So the reason why I'm going into this is that, If we look at communication with intention, it means that we're actively listening to try to understand, and we're actively listening, which means that we're listening to understand the other person, not just their words, but what they're feeling and what they need from us at that moment.
And here's the hypothesis, which is one of the best hypotheses for human beings. If you ask an average person or human beings good or evil, they will say one or the other. But those who have looked into this further, and they've looked into the nature of human beings, all say that human beings are neither evil, nor good, but they're also evil and they're good.
This is what it means, that in a certain context, human beings can be incredibly evil. But in another context, human beings could be incredibly positive and, and altruistic and amazing. So what makes that, what is the difference between the two? If human beings don't have their needs met, they will show up in all sorts of negative ways.
If human beings have their needs met, they show up in amazing ways. Now, there's one caveat in there because as human beings, we have this ability to override some of our instincts, so this is why meaning is a very powerful thing. Some human beings will not have their needs met, but they can override that with a sense of purpose.
But that sense of purpose actually gives them a lot of their needs, a sense of fulfillment, a sense of direction. They can delay those gratifications around many of those needs. But on average, if a human being feels heard, and understood, their food, water, and basic things are met, human beings are generally very positive and productive and so on and so forth, and we know this, if you for example, poverty creates crime, why does poverty create crime?
Well, because when people are in poverty, their needs are not met. That's a huge thing. Why do people behave in negative ways and in war? When they're being attacked? It's very similar to cornering an animal. But even then, the caveat I want to put is human beings can behave very positively even in those situations.
Because we have a way to override some of those things, but we're talking about averages and no exceptions. So the reason why I wanted to do this session, first of all, we have a group coaching session on Thursday. We're going to be talking about influence and we're going to be going deeper into it. And from a conceptual point of view, these are like, it's simple to say this stuff, but in practice, it's actually very difficult. I struggle with it pretty much every day, and within my team, but the work on it, the effort and work on it is incredibly powerful because as you work on it, you start to realize, holy shoot, I know very little with the person that I've lived with for 12 years, 10 years, 30 years.
People who have lived with me for 30-plus years, they don't know me that. And that humbles you as a person that shows you that, oh my God, there's so much to learn about the other human being. But we go around with the assumption that we know people, we know the other person, and we know exactly how to, but that's not true.
And to top it all off, most people don't even know themselves. I had a conversation with one of my clients the other day, and it was one of the first sessions, and he had a challenge within his relationship. And I tried to get him to notice, I'm like, okay, what do you need from this relationship with, with his spouse?
And he went on, he stated a few things. He said, well, I'd love to have some quality time with, my wife, and to just go for walks and just spend some time not staring at the TV and just doing our own thing and connecting with each other. And he said a few other things. And then at the end, I asked him like, did you know this before?
That you needed these things. And he's like, no. Like, so how do you expect your wife to know? And this is a challenge that we need to do a lot of our work to find out what we feel and what we need in our life. And that is hard work. When we do that work, it becomes easier to understand other people.
But I hope some of these tools or ways of thinking about this help you understand that if we begin to communicate with an intention, we try to listen to the other person from the lens of, let me try to understand what this person feels in this moment and what do they need? And it might go in a positive direction.
And there are lots of resources around this, but I would say the best resource around this is non-violent communication by Dr. Marshall Rosenburg. Look into that. It'll help you a lot. And we're going to be exploring this very deeply in the influence session on Thursday where we'll, we'll talk about the general idea of what, how does influence happen and what kinda influence do you want to bring in your life?
What kinda influences do you have that are shaping the way you think? And I can tell you this, and I always say this the more reflection I've done, the more I've realized that I stand on the shoulders of giants. People who have been a source of inspiration for me consistently. People who have shown up for me and supported me at times I didn't even notice it.
And I've also noticed that a lot of the destructive behaviors that I have come from the people in my life. Of course, at some point as a conscious human being, you need to take responsibility for your own behavior, actions, thoughts, and emotions. That's what we're doing. And that only happens if you actually notice where the influences are coming from.
Otherwise, it's just an automatic reaction to the environment.
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