I just spent the last 30 minutes sending emails to students. I had to let them know what’s going to happen in class tomorrow so that they come prepared. I had to remind some of them to complete the work they were supposed to do in class on Tuesday. I had to welcome some of them who added my class late. I had to ask students to delete themselves from the online platform of the course if they have dropped my section. Emails are a tricky thing to write, but they’re a perfect topic for today’s Dimension of Wellness: Communication!Defining Communication
Communication is a loaded word, but vital to our wellness. It is defined by any way in which we transmit information to the world around us or receive information ourselves. This can be through non-verbal things like the way you look at someone or your body language. It can be a verbal message as in how you say something and the words you choose and the tone and volume at which you communicate a message. You can use hand gestures and visual images to communicate. You can communicate through the written word as I am doing right now. You can communicate through a video or a spoken word message. There is just so much to tell and so many ways to tell it!
Most people, when we begin to talk about communication, jump straight to the message that we send out and receive. Many of us forget about the message that we send IN. This is something that I talk a lot about to my students in yoga classes. The Yamas ask us to be both non-harming and truthful in our lives. Self-talk is often both a lie and harmful. Self-talk is just as important to your ability to communicate with others as it is to any of our other Dimensions of Wellness being successful.
The more you understand yourself, the better you can communicate your worth, your ideas, your wants and needs, and your authentic self to the world around you. Understanding yourself and using POSITIVE self-talk empowers your communication on all levels.
My Many Pitfalls
I am not perfect at communication, despite my many years of practice. I still sit here, many times, at the keyboard wondering just how to communicate my message to you, my readers. I want to stress to you the benefits of Wellness and Fitness and everything else that I’m trained to teach about. However, I don’t want to come across as pushy or write so much that my post looks overwhelming.
I have this same issue when talking to my students. I told them this week that my least favorite day to teach is Day One because it’s a lot of me talking AT them. I explained the necessity of it this way:
You are all adults and I am going to assume that you are responsible adults. However, if you just started a new job you would have to go through Orientation with HR. That’s what Day One is like. It’s me going over all of the policies and procedures of our course for the semester so that you know what is expected of you and you can do your job as a student correctly. It’s a chance for you to ask questions, but because I have all of the info to start with, it’s a lot of me talking AT you instead of a discussion today.
I always hope that that goes over well, but you never know until later. I temper my emails to my students and other people when I am upset or disappointed with their work/response/attitude/request/etc. I am always fearful that being direct will come off the wrong way.
I recognize, as someone who teaches about communication to both my students and potential fitness professionals, how much of an impact your non-verbals have on the outcome of a conversation. I have this bad habit sometimes of nervously laughing when I am overwhelmed. Let me just tell you that NO ONE likes to have someone nervous laugh at them when they are expressing frustration with you. It has gotten me into sticky situation more than once.
My direct tone also comes off as bossy and condescending, when not intending to do so. My attempt to make others take responsibility for themselves is often misconstrued as lack of caring. There are so many ways in which my natural self battles communication issues on a daily basis in both my personal and professional life.
Consistently Good Communication
So, how do you win in Communication? It takes practice and patience. Let’s first start with communication with others:
- LISTEN – The best communicators are also the best listeners. Listen for the way things are being said and what words are chosen and the content and the emotion and look for those non-verbal cues. If it’s an email, read it more than once before responding. Open your eyes and ears and mind to interpreting the message being received.
- Take your time – You don’t always have to respond right that minute; even if you’re in the middle of a face-to-face conversation. It’s okay to walk away and think about it. Let the person know that you’ll get back to them and need time to respond.
- Drafts – Emails and all written communication should have more than one draft. Write it, read it, rewrite it, reread it and then….maybe repeat a few more times. Think about if you’d want to read what you wrote if you were in their shoes. Does it convey the right message without creating the kind of feedback and response you don’t want?
How about communicating with yourself?
- Patience – Don’t blow yourself off. If your inside voice is telling you something….LISTEN. Sometimes the message is important, but sometimes you just need to acknowledge that negative self-talk is there and be patient for the moment to move on.
- Kindness and Love – Look at yourself in the mirror when negative self-talk starts up. Recognize that you are a human being too. Would you talk to someone else that way?
- Tell the TRUTH! – Remember that a lot of the negative things we tell ourselves is a lie. What is the truth about the situation? Reframe statements to tell yourself what you know to be true and use Affirmations to keep reminding yourself of that truth.
The thing I keep reminding myself is that we’re all still learning how to communicate. The world keeps changing and the way that we communicate changes with it.
What are your communication pitfalls?
What is your one best communication tip?
What is your self-talk like?