Feeling like we are ‘understood’ is really important to most of us. We try and make ourselves understood and we want to understand others. At best we can be on the same wavelength and in rapport with others, but how can we learn to do this more often and, more importantly, in times of difficulty? I decided to enroll on a communication workshop to try to find out…
Having conversations can be difficult, even when you speak the same language. When the stakes are high, it can suddenly get even harder. I have found over the years that communication is the most difficult domain in my life. Not naturally gifted at it, or perhaps taught to do it, I tend to go one of two ways – clam up or blurt it all out. Neither has had great success so these days I am going for a more middle of the road approach! But it’s a continual process of learning, so I’m on board for anything that will help. I’ve learned to not send a text until I am calm, or fly off the handle at what I feel is an unjust situation, but enforcing that type of self-control can often be hard.
It’s not just communication with others that is important, but communication within as well. So it was with a combined sense of hope and trepidation that I recently attended a Journey workshop called ‘Healing with Conscious Communication ‘. The Journey is a process based on Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help clear limiting states of mind, illnesses and fear of emotions. Essentially it is about building well-being; connecting with our true nature and reaching our potential. So naturally communication is a good topic.
The three-day course was led by Journey Kevin Billet, who describes himself as a Life Transformation Presenter and Author. Despite the daunting title, Kevin made sure it was fun and relaxing, as well as a powerful learning opportunity. A lot of the workshop was experiential – we learned through doing. We took part in various exercises where we could observe how we affected each other. In one pair-work exercise we were given instructions on how to act in a meaningful conversation, and I learned firsthand how upsetting it can be not to be listened to, versus how it felt to have warm, engaged attention. I noticed how I literally dried up when my partner showed signs of disinterest and how I chatted easily and opened up when my partner seemed really interested. I don’t think I’ll forget that exercise in a hurry! We also practiced matching our partner in speed and pitch of body language, speed and tone, called ‘pacing’ and then leading, if we wanted to help put someone at ease. It taught me to think about moderating my speed and style, to meet someone where they are at, rather than being a mis-match from the start, for example if someone is down and slow or excited and expansive in their body language.
We discussed being willing to own our emotions, rather than the classic communication error which is to say ‘you made me feel…’ It’s always good to hear the same message again, especially from different teachers, it seems like everyone is on the same page. I was also really interested to learn that one study found our body language counted for 57% of our effect on another, with our tone at 36% and our actual words counting for a measly 7%. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
The main part of the workshop was looking at our internal scripts. The central Journey process is a guided visualisation. We did some therapeutic processes on phobias, limiting beliefs and unhealthy habits, unlocking old limiting beliefs and updating them with new, more helpful ones. One of mine was ‘I should cope by myself’ and my update ‘I’m willing to be vulnerable‘, when going over a childhood memory. All in all this was pretty helpful and I ultimately felt more at peace with the memory and more powerful in relation to it. It may all sound a bit weird, but it works!
Memories, like the whole brain, are more plastic and therefore malleable than we had first thought them to be, which suggest we may actually be able to alter them for the better. Kevin gave some really interesting examples of work that he has done, including apparently healing himself from an animal allergy. There are so many uses for these processes and we were given a booklet with them all to try on ourselves and friends and family. There are further courses you can do to train as a practitioner, doing Journeywork with others, but I didn’t feel any pressure to do this, although about half the group were doing this further training which suggests to me it seems to work!
After the workshop I felt more enlightened, and more able to recognise my limiting factors when it comes to consciously communicating with others. It remains a work in progress for me, but I definitely took away some valuable skills and knowledge from what was a very enjoyable and enlightening weekend.
* For more information on workshops and seminars see www.thejourney.com