5 Tips for Effective Communication

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Purpose: Here are some tips for authentic, compassionate/respectful and persuasive communication. These practises are particularly useful when our intention is to inspire change in others towards the protection or care of things we care deeply about.

Preparation: Read the tips and try to remember the “taglines”:


1.Head = “I know what I know”. You do understand things about this topic that others may not, especially if you’ve been doing a bit of exploration of the issue (like in the Get the Whole Story process). So prepare, research, even try to remember a few facts and figures, as they can come in handy. 🙂 Remember also, you don’t have to know everything in order to share what you do know.


2. Heart = “I dare to care”. The other form of knowing that is important is the “heart knowing”. Being in contact with what you really care about, knowing why you care, feeling your emotions and being prepared to share them, is an important part of effective communication. This doesn’t mean you necessarily collapse into your emotions and dissolve in a bucket of tears (although this may happen and it’s okay). It does mean being able to identify, acknowledge and share those feelings with the person you are talking with.  Classic “I statements” are really good for that: “I feel …. about [the issue I am concerned about]. I feel ….. when I see [action being taken to address this issue].”


3. Solar plexus = “I am not alone”. You can build your confidence by recognising that you are speaking with, and for, many others. Think about who your allies are… like-minded and like-hearted others, who agree with you and would be standing with you if they could.  Imagine these people actually standing beside you, on both sides, there may be many of them. Feel that support. You could even quote inspiring statements from well-known allies (collect few quotable quotes as they can be as useful as facts and figures). Now think about the people and other beings (plants, animals, ecosystems) who you are speaking on behalf of.  Who are you protecting, advocating for? Imagine them all behind you, supporting you from behind. Feel the Earth beneath your feet, and remember any of the nature connection processes, reminding you of your profound interconnection with all life.


4. Hands = “I respect and connect”. Understanding and connecting with the person you are talking with is a vital part of communication.  After all, communication is a two-way process, actively involving at least two people (think about that for a moment). For someone to really hear what it is you’re saying, you need to connect to things they understand, value and are interested in … otherwise they will ‘”turn off”, or at least won’t deeply engage with you. In your conversation, ask sincere questions and try to listen to their answers without judgement.  This way, you get to understand their values, concerns and learn the language they use to talk about the issue that you care about. Then, you can use these tools to actively engage with them to explore the topic … both the issue/challenge and the solutions/opportunities.


5. Feet = “I inspire action but don’t expect it”. Be clear about what you would like to see happen, not necessarily what you would like them to do (don’t point the finger at them!). Share what actions you’re taking.  Share stories about what others are doing, and what positive impacts those actions are having. If it feels right, make a clear invitation or “call to action”.  “Would you be interested in ….?” If their answer is negative, try not to be disappointed, but listen with respect and genuine interest to their reasons why not (this is useful information, so keep an open mind!). If their answer is positive, drink that feeling in, whether or not you think their commitment will come to fruition.

Each of these 5 tips can be symbolised by a different part of our body, which makes it an easy way to remember them. Try repeating each “tagline” while focussing on each part of your body, so they become second nature to you.

Process: In your Joyality Journal, follow these 5 pointers and write down some notes (either dot-points or free-writing) about the issue you care deeply about. Then have a 10 minute conversation with someone who is “easy” to talk to, or close to you … perhaps a family member or trusted friend. Reach out and dare to communicate with this person about what you care about, and the changes you’d like to see.

The notes you just wrote will have prepared you, so you might read them before your conversation, then just let them go (no, you don’t need to remember each point word for word!). If it feels helpful, just before you talk, you can scan your body and use your head, heart, solar plexus, hands and feet to remind you of the five tips.

Reflection: How did this go? What happened? What feelings came up for you? Anything you didn’t expect? Write about this in your journal too, or share these experiences with a supportive friend or Joyality buddy.

Think about communicating with another person, practising these tips again, perhaps with someone slightly less close to you, or with different opinions to you.  How might you change what you say in order to connect with them?

Source: This process was developed by Eshana Bragg, based on a synthesis of the theories and practises of non-violent communication and social action; persuasive communication; and the input of Rita Bee and Peter Gringinger. Symbols (except Joyality sun) by Stewart Edmondson.


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