Get out of the box: communicate and connect

Ever try to communicate with someone and they just don’t seem to be listening? No matter what you do they simply cannot see your perspective, even though it is so obvious! There are many ways to make them see your point, the silent treatment, that works, right? Yelling, another great option! How about reiterating your point over and over until even you are sick of your message? These are all Band-Aids that we apply when our desire to communicate is unfulfilled.

Well, what if I told you that the reason you cannot get your point across is not your point or the other persons hearing, rather the disconnect between you and them. Well, great, no big news there. But what if I told you that could change with a few simple suggestions which will not only revolutionize your communication but add a deeper sense of fulfillment to your life. Would that be of value to you? Read on.

Now go easy on yourself, no one ever taught us this stuff, unless you parents were communication coaches in your youth. And even then we often have to experience life and how wrapped up we get to understand how to unwrap ourselves and be free from simple miscommunication.

I am not saying that we all have trouble communicating. 99% of the time well maybe a little less, we communicate just fine. Yet when something is at stake for us (money or sex for example) or we perceive that a person, conversation or event threatens our life or identity, we begin to build what is called our box of self-deception. This box begins to fill our thoughts with why we are right about what we believe. It engages our emotions to support the thoughts and then employs our body as a means to protect ourselves from what we fear: the person, the conversation or event. The way we react is called being triggered. The box gets constructed especially when we are triggered. Only sometimes we don’t notice because triggered might be our normal state of being.

The Arbringer Institute, an internationally recognized organization which specializes in conflict resolution and peacemaking says that “most conflicts are perpetuated by self-deception, as are most failures in communication and most breakdowns in trust and accountability. Unless one can solve the problem of not knowing one has a problem, these other problems unnecessarily remain.” “Try telling someone he or she has a problem, however, and the depth of the problem of self-deception becomes clear. How can you help someone to see something he or she is unwilling to see or feel?” I added the italics.

I believe self-deception to be the root reason why we have difficulty communicating our message. With the help or many authors, teachers and our own experience, we have devised ways of decreasing our self-deception and increasing our time out of the box. Our next workshop at the Access Leadership Lab, Communicate and Connect on February 28th will dive deep into how we develop our box, recognize it and move toward more authenticity by getting out!

In the meantime, below are a few tips to discover your box and hopefully get out.

  • First, notice if you justify anything. If you do, then you are stuck judging the other or yourself. This prevents you from being present in the moment because you cannot sense what is really happening (you should have come to my session called Waking the Leadership Observer to understand a bit of brain science behind the fact that what we actually see, visually perceive, is only about 5 to 20 percent of what is actually happening, the other 80 percent is constructed from our memories!)
  • Second, notice how you classify yourself in the moment of justification: good, honorable, caring, thoughtful, etc.; as well as how you classify the other: bad, disrespectful, disruptive, immature, not helpful, etc. Usually we are the saint and they are the sinner.
  • Third, ask yourself, “Am I able to see the good in them?” “Am I able to see my faults?” if this is hard to do, you are in the box.
  • Fourth, get out of the box by focusing on yourself and what you can change, not the other person. If you focus on them you will just auger yourself deeper into self-deception! Try to remember a time of place where this person did something nice to you and maybe you did something not so nice. If you cannot use this person, you are perhaps too triggered, try another person, place or event not involved in the current conflict. One that helps you feel open and loving, or at peace. With this new frame of reference, now try to adhere all those labels to yourself and the other person. Pretty hard, eh?
  • Rinse, repeat. Only through practice, by applying awareness to ourselves and our patterns of reactivity, will we be able to know when we are out of or in the box. We cannot make ourselves change but we can continually bring awareness to certain behaviors and over the course of time the new ways we practice begin to happen spontaneously.

Bottom line: we all fall into the box. Yes, all of us, even the Dali Lama and Mother Teresa, rest her soul, (they just get/got out more quickly!). Yet, we can choose to become aware, to wake up the observer and notice when we are in the box and get out. It is simply a choice, it may seem insurmountable, but being in the box is always a choice. When we are free from the box, we relax, become more authentic and naturally, peacefully solve conflict. Want to know more about your box, invite perspective, come join us for an out-of-box experience on February 28th; the world needs your authentic presence.