Today I was brought back to breath.
It’s always surprising to me that the most basic function of being alive is something that we actively restrict in a variety of ways. We hold our breath when we’re scared, excited, nervous, our chest muscles get tight and short by way of our activities of daily living, even the way we stand limits our capacity for breath.
When delivering presentations, I find people arrive looking to ‘fix what is wrong’ and I listen as they outline the struggles they face on a daily basis. The context and content varies, the themes remain the same. Communication, resilience, and empathy. These are the elements that always make their way to the forefront of conversation, no matter the topic.
You see, it all starts with one person and their ability to breathe.
If there is breath, there is the possibility of listening. If there is a possibility of listening, there is the chance of feeling heard. This is the foundation of what may be a good communication interaction. Can you imagine feeling heard by every person you speak with today? How freeing that would be understood.
Try an experiment for me (after all, life is made up of lots of experiments. Some are super successful, others teach us a LOT!). Today, when someone speaks to you, take a breath, focus your attention on them and what they have to say. You may or may not agree with the content, you may need to ask additional questions, it may take up a bit more time than you anticipated. Focus on them and allow them to feel heard and understood by you. Before the conversation is finished, you can even ask them if they feel they need to add anything else or confirm they feel understood.
When the conversation is done, before you move onto the next action item in your day – take note of how that interaction went. Did the other party leave seeming satisfied/happier/more engaged? Or was there no change/they were the same/worse off? Would you change anything if you had a do-over? The whole point of an experiment is that you check in with the outcomes and reach a conclusion you can work from.
The key part to all of this is that you took a breath and ran the experiment in the first place. Give it a try, the worst outcome is that nothing changes, thought your body will have more oxygen available to it! The best is that you have a series of insightful interactions and gain a better understanding of the where the other person is at. This leads to a more productive style of communication, more fulfilling for all parties regardless of if it’s at work or at home.
Give it a shot and let me know!