The purpose of communication is not to resolve conflict but to rise beyond it.
Conflict manifests in many forms but in truth it is all the same thing. From all out war to a tiff with our spouse the root cause of conflict never changes. It is not disagreement but communication failure. Getting lost in the content of our conflicts obscures the cause which inevitably leads to further divide.
We have gotten to the point where we think disagreement is conflict. Not so. Most of us disagree on most things, that is because we are all unique and each of us has a different perspective. That is not something to fear or fight but to celebrate.
Because we think disagreement is the problem we see agreement as the solution. But agreement is impossible and unnecessary. In an attempt to approximate agreement, we have settled on constructs such as negotiation and compromise. These keep communication failures alive and are always only a temporary fix to a persistent problem.
Negotiation and compromise are default strategies to deal with disagreements. These however, compound the problem because they are not solutions but substitutes for communication. Compromise is a lose lose and winning someone over is coercion at best and suppression at worst. What is not communication is assault, aggression and fertile ground for conflict escalation and further division.
Communication at its core is communion. It is a coming together, a union, that changes all involved for the better. It is a raising of consciousness. Communication is never benign and we are always communicating. Any communication that is not bringing us together is driving us apart.
Many forms of communication misfires are considered justified and socially acceptable - the way teachers talk to students, bosses talk to employees and parents talk to children. Our society has given us the right to engage in communication abuses. Here are some things communication is not:
Defending one’s position
Proving that we are right
Getting someone to agree with us
Getting someone to admit guilt, shame or blaming.
What is communication is an interaction that leaves all involved elevated to a new level of being. Bringing new perspective and new possibilities that did not exist before. Every interaction holds this incredible potential but most often it is squandered. We don’t listen or allow, instead we come to conversation with our defense. All conflict is the same be it world war or family squabbles etc.. If you can’t communicate with the ones closest to you, you will likely not be solving world peace.
The content of the conflict is irrelevant. The fact that your are having a conflict is all that you need to understand and address.
The purpose of communication is not to resolve conflict but to rise beyond it. How we approach each other is critical. Curiosity must replace the desire to win someone over, open heartedness must supplant defensiveness. In all conversations there is the assumption of pure equality. Hierarchies, status and seniority must fall away in order to for communication to land.
Conflict within is manifest in conflict without. We put a very low priority on communing with ourselves which is part of the reason why we are so challenged in our attempts to communicate with others. If we do not check in with what is driving us, we can stay in the sphere of blame and self righteous superiority. Self reflection is the only way to connect to our hearts so we may then connect with others.
Often times when we are in a conflict with a spouse or family member we choose not to speak. Not to communicate is also a communication failure. In the absence of communion we get stuck in our heads playing over scenarios and widening the gap. Eventually this divide gets so big in our minds that reconciliation seems impossible. In these moments war is justified, the inconceivable becomes the inevitable.
Communication is a lost art. Now that you know what you are going for, make the necessary changes you require to genuinely hear everyone, honor where they are even if you see it differently, and know that you can love unconditionally everyone that crosses your path.
You do not need someone else to be a compassionate communicator for you to be. One person can raise many. Everyone has the right to be heard, the right to his or her opinion, and the right to be respected as a fellow human. It may seem obvious to disrespect those who seem to disrespect us, but all disrespect is an aspect of fear. We do not respond in kind, we love and lift no matter how undeserved it may appear.
You really need do nothing else in your life but mind and master the art of communication. It is not complicated but it is counter-intuitive.
For Fear: Fear enhances conflict
As you go through your day, rate your communication connection on a scale of 1-5.
1 Being two people talking at each other
5 being a shared experience that left you buoyant.
Notice where communication is repetitive, uninspired, and void of energy or presence.
- Strive to have 5 artful communications each day. Focus on curiosity, wonder, the unknown. listen with your whole heart.
- Notice how your attitude changes, how other people respond to you.
- Notice your level of joy.
- Are you smiling more?
This is holy communion. Enjoy!