Say Less, Share More
Inspired by Intimate Conversations
with Kim & Krista
Written by KristaLove Louise Hagman
Through our relationships we have the opportunity to mirror and reflect back how we show up in the world. Having multiple mirrors means we get multiple perspectives, highlighting where we shine and places we have room for growth. Choosing to be mirrors for others allows us to grow personally and collectively. The most common way for us to be mirrors is through communication.
Most of us know good communication is a combination of verbal articulation and clarity, as well as non-verbal messages (such as tone, rate, volume and body language) and active listening skills. Beyond just having a large vocabulary or knowing how to construct clear, conceptual thoughts, good communication means we are speaking from our place of authentic truth, and listening from the same grounded center. Good communication skills are often desirable traits for a partner to have, and any healthy relationship (friends, co-workers, family) will benefit from a foundation of good communication.
There are many ways to learn vocabulary to fit our unique way of communicating; likewise, we can refine our non-verbal skills to enhance the messages we send. It is incredibly useful to have friends or community to be in process with, to “run around the bush,” to help you find what you actually feel. For some folks, a therapist or counselor is a great space for this process. Additionally, there are benefits to experiencing your own unraveling — to sit quietly with yourself and contemplate what is present for you, to examine what you’re learning and how the world is reflecting back to you. If, however, we expect our partner to be our best friend, lover, planning partner, secretary, colleague, co-parent and therapist, we are putting a lot of roles onto one human being.
Refining communication is a worthwhile effort, so when does over-communicating not serve our growth as individuals in relationships? Kim and I call this over-communicating the blah-blah-blah, when someone shares information that is completely irrelevant to you or the way you create in the world; it can happen when we are nervous, want to prove ourselves or impress someone, when we feel like we should have something to say, or if/when we are uncomfortable with silence. Sharing the fact that you don’t know what to say is completely acceptable. It may not be the answer someone is looking for, but it is still an answer. The difference between blah-blah-blah and unraveling is that the former likely does not serve to enhance or inform your experience (like your mom telling you she saw the neighbor at the grocery store and their daughter you used to know got married). The latter is the raw experience of how life is reflecting back to you. Blah-blah-blah often shows up as a call for, or attempt at, creating connection. When it becomes the main mode of communicating, we lose the potency of connection.
Communication, verbal and non-verbal, is an avenue for connection. Therefore, the connection we experience in physical intimacy can lead to deeper communication. When intimacy is the focus of our interaction, it changes how we speak, because we are sharing from our most vulnerable essence. Intimacy practices bring us into our physical and emotional selves, and require a check-in with where we are in the moment. When we communicate from that raw and authentic place — beyond mental or conceptual — truth comes through. We give voice to the vulnerable, quiet, unchanging piece of ourselves. We call this truth-sharing Embodied Communication. Embodiment is tangible in the sense that it exists in the present moment where sensations of the body live.
Sharing from this authentic place can be challenging. It’s not something we are typically taught in mainstream culture, school or work environments. Author Gregg Levoy in his incredible book, Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion, says “unfortunately for most of us, this natural voice, this access to our ancient source of passion, sorrow, anger, and laughter, to the roar of pain or pleasure, has either been civilized or brutalized out of us, and reclaiming it takes a bit of doing, if not undoing.”
Practicing consideration is key to sharing truth kindly. When we are considerate, we reflect on how our thoughts, words and actions will affect another. This doesn’t mean we walk on eggshells or always do what others want. It means we are respectful of their truth and speak our own. Have you felt like you shouldn’t speak up because you didn’t know the answer? Or because someone else’s share is more important than yours? Or you shouldn’t say something to a friend (not a fan of their new beau?) or partner because it could hurt their feelings? The intention of the share is where truth resides, and truth has no right or wrong. It’s Truth!
When we listen from a place of embodied vulnerability, it decreases reactionary responses, because the purpose of our listening is to understand, not defend. Creating space in dialogue allows time to transition into embodiment, so we can listen and share from our authenticity. Less is More. Allow a moment to boil your thought down to its essence, and share that, and give space for the words to land with the other.
We can expand our vocabulary to serve our truth by practicing communicating in containers with embodied listeners. Often thoughts arise in the mind and then come right out (blah, blah, blah), yet if we allow the inspiration that created the thought to sit in the body, to mull it over in how it feels, we then share from embodiment. Being in our process can bring up a lot, and it serves to consider what the best outlet for that process is. Maybe your partner is stressed with their workload or family affairs, and they don’t have the bandwidth to take on your share at this time. If our relationships become a dumping ground for all we are going through in life, we can be in communication-overload, and actually create disconnect rather than experiencing deeper connection and intimacy. When we give space for our process to unfold naturally and seek out a variety of compassionate, clear mirrors to reflect with, we have the opportunity to then share what we are unraveling with our beloved; and they get to witness how, over time, we change and grow.
If we only allow ourselves to share our authenticity with one person (likely a romantic partner), we end up in an echo chamber, with one mirror — one reflection — coming back, and we never get a new perspective on who we are.
To speak or not to speak is a question we might struggle with from time to time. When this is the case for you, drop into your breath and body, and consider your intention for sharing. Truth said in fewer words can be more powerful than truth spread thin over too much communication, or the blah-blah-blah.
Tips to help deepen your Embodied Communication:
- Create check-ins. Take 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted time to come into resonance with your communication buddy before you talk about the topic at hand.
- Think about communication as a mindfulness practice: pause, breathe, share, listen.
- Practice writing down what you want to share before speaking it, to give clarity.
- If you catch yourself or another in the blah-blah-blah, ask what the intention of the share is.
- Take an image (a photo, a sunset, a tree, etc.) and describe what you see with the most creative and direct language you can.
- Boil down what you want to say to the essence of it, and then share that. Less is more!
- Create containers for intentional communication that begin with an embodiment practice (breathing, shaking, yoga, dance, anything that gets you into your body!).
- Gaze at your friend’s/lover’s/partner’s face for 3-5 minutes and describe to them what you see. (Step it up a notch: gaze upon their private parts and describe what you witness.)
- Create regular time for yourself to reflect on your personal process (quiet time in nature, journaling, recording yourself in free-flow expression).
- Let your body talk — give yourself space to move in your body what you are feeling. Feel free to express with sounds, but try to refrain for words.
- Be patient with yourself and others! Good examples of clear communicators can be hard to come by. Know we are all on this journey together to learn, connect and grow.