Finally, we have made it to the last tip in this seven part series! This week I am focusing on a key aspect of communication, vulnerability. It is often uncomfortable to speak to someone openly and honestly about what it going on. But without vulnerability the other six tips I’ve written about are useless. We must take some risks in order to communicate on a deep level.
Feel free to take a moment here to go back and read the previous posts in this series. Or you can start with this one and pick and choose what sounds interesting.
- Using “I” statements
- Trying waiting periods
- The importance of eye contact
- Setting boundaries
- Avoiding criticism
- Reflect what you hear
7. Be Vulnerable
Vulnerability looks different for everyone. I am not advocating that you make yourself unsafe by sharing too much or in inappropriate situations. Instead, I encourage you to take risks when you communicate. If you have read the other posts in this series and tried practicing the tips you have probably already tapped into some vulnerability. Many of them are designed to help you take these sort of risks and to communicate in a deep and meaningful way.
There are also ways you can intentionally practice being vulnerable. When you notice yourself using “we” or “you” language see if you can bring it back to first person. When you find yourself making generalizations be specific about how things are affecting you. Here is an example of how to do this:
Guarded We language: “I think we all have a hard time talking about our feelings with other people.”
Vulnerable I language: “It feels painful and unsafe for me when I talk about my feelings with other people.”
You can see the second one is much harder to say! However, it is also going to enable you to foster a deeper connection with the person you are talking to. As you start these types of conversations and use the skills I explained in my previous posts, you can intentionally bring mindfulness to how vulnerable you are being. Notice the times when you feel yourself backing off because of the discomfort. Without making yourself unsafe, push through the uncomfortable feelings and say what you want to say directly.
Practice this Skill
- Before you begin a conversation with someone take a moment to reflect on your intention. Can you get in touch with why you are about to communicate with this person? What do you want to convey? How would it be best to talk about it?
- As you begin to talk notice what your body feels like. You might feel pressure in your chest or a tightness in your belly. Try to breathe through the physical discomfort. If it helps, return to your intention
- Notice when you are slipping into general language or we language. Practice vulnerability by coming back to I language
- Notice if you are being indirect or passive. Try to phrase things specifically and directly.
- Keep monitoring your discomfort. The more physical discomfort the harder it is to practice vulnerability. Breathe into it and remind yourself of your intention!
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