Let’s define interpersonal communication as:
“An interaction that fosters deep and inclusive connections with others based on mutual trust, understanding, and acceptance. “
The ability to build rapport and deep connection with others creates an environment of
safety, cooperation, and co-creativity,
because we feel supported, valued, and loved.
This allows relationships to thrive and our best selves to emerge.
The number one reason relationships break down and fall apart, is poor communication. And, all relationships improve when people learn how to truly listen, share authentically, and work together to find new ways of working things out.
Learning how to communicate with others is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself because it helps you close the gap between yourself and others.
In this video, I’m going to give you a brief overview of the 3 primary obstacles to effective communication.
2. Core pictures
3. Core adaptive responses
These are all big issues that will take time to fully understand, so my goal here today is simply to give you a brief overview of what these obstacles are and their impact on communication. Let’s begin with the first obstacle.
Perception is a way of understanding the world based on our thoughts and beliefs. It’s entirely subjective, variable, selective, and biased. It is an outward projection of an inward state of mind.
So basically, perception is like a movie that reflects the script we’ve written in our own mind. We fully believe our story despite the lack of consistency with anyone else’s story and despite the inconsistencies within our own script because we over-identify with our thoughts and feelings. We believe they make us who we are. And that’s because we’ve forgotten who we are, which is - the informing conscious life that thinks and feels. Not, the product of those thoughts and feelings, that’s the ego persona. But, That which thinks and senses and is life. There’s an important difference.
So, this ego persona we’ve adopted as our identity is what gets in our way. Within this mindset, we can only perceive what we believe. But what we believe is based on past experiences which were also processed through perception. Or, through what we believed about the experience at the time.
This perception/belief library started at birth when we had no ability to cognitively understand what we were sensing. At a very young age we began to formulate foundational ideas about who we are, who others are, and our relationship with the world around us. I call these core pictures.
As infants and small children, the driving force that compels us revolves around survival of the body and acceptance by our tribe. The basic question is: How can I be safe, loved, worthy, and included in my tribe? How can I get what I want and need? Everyone’s personal core picture holds a particular belief that works as an unconscious mantra in the subconscious mind. But, they all boil down to, “I’m not safe, I’m not worthy, and/or I’m not loved.”
From this basis, core adaptive patterns arise. Starting in infancy and throughout our formative years, we come up with strategies for getting what we feel we want and need. For example, some children learn to be pleasing while others learn to be demanding. Some focus on tangible achievement while others focus on feelings and imagination, and so forth. The important point for today, is to understand that the way we learned to deal with stress in our early life, greatly affects how we connect with others today.
When we are triggered by a person or a situation, we perceive the experience through our core pictures, and our unconscious coping strategy immediately takes over. This makes it very difficult for us to truly listen to others. We find it difficult to be neutral and attend to what the other person is saying because we’re not really listening to fully understand the other person, we’re trying to figure out how to ensure our safety and worth. We have a second internal conversation going on at the same time. When you consider that the other person is also doing this, you can see how messy and unclear communication becomes. Imagine two people trying to see each other through two windows that are covered with transparent slides full of memories, beliefs, and programming. Or, trying to have a conversation in Grand Central Station full of conflicting sights and sounds. Our attention is clouded and divided.
To become an effective communicator and build truly successful relationships, we need to:
Become aware of our core pictures and our knee-jerk coping responses. And, be willing to question them and move beyond them so we can heal emotionally. And, we need to
Evolve our coping strategies so we can become more internally balanced. I call this gaining mastery over our mental and emotional apparatus.
Healing our internal wounds and gaining mastery over our thoughts and emotions enables us to respond to life in a more balanced, trusting, and loving way. It also enables each person to manifest their fullest human potential.
In my next video I’ll talk about learning how to listen for understanding. In my experience, this is the foundational skill upon which all others depend. It takes time to get good at it because it requires us to do the work I just mentioned: heal our core pictures, evolve our coping strategies, and master our thoughts and emotions.