Freedom Friday: Communication connections and disconnections
There is often unfinished business for individuals who have experienced discrimination. When experiencing discrimination, we can be left feeling alone and isolated with the pain of betrayal or being discriminated against without just cause or reason, or feeling blamed. “Real” healing begins with one’s willingness to disclose – too go back to “the scene of the crime.” This takes courage and trust. The healing will often come in two phases: the “release stage” and the “reclaiming stage.” In the release stage we are able to articulate in words and/or emotionally what happened. In the reclaiming stage, we are able to take back what we feel was taken from us, for example, our dignity and respect.
The art of mindful listening and responding is to learn the intent, or the “why”, behind communication; the unfinished business. When we learn ‘why’ someone acts the way they do (because of some past experience(s) or because of “unfinished business”), we as listeners can better understand the context of the communication and also have more compassion for what it has taken for the person sharing their story, their experiences, to get to where they are now.
Each time people interact with one another, a painting emerges. With careful and diligent observation, a story unfolds – enhanced or diminished by our willingness to be a bridge or an obstruction. Listening is a lifetime opportunity. Listening and responding mindfully requires being present and open. For effective communication to take place, it must be with the recognition that each of us holds a part of the truth. Hearing another’s truth is an essential part of the wholeness of a healthy relationship. This involves talking with each other, rather than at each other.
Mindful communication is all about helping others to become mindful of our interactions with one another by noticing our connections and disconnections, as well as the impact of our words and actions. If we learn what makes each of us who we are, we can choose to transform that knowledge into compassion and understanding.
Adapted from Lee Mun Wah. The Art of Mindful Facilitation
(image description: on the left of the picture is part of a face that is black showing the nose, lips, and check of a person. The background is blurry with orange and a dark color)