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The Big ‘I’ in Communication

The Big ‘I’ in Communication ~ jen ayres

A couple of months ago I nearly lost my cool in a board meeting. This bubbling up of frustration that was dangerously close to erupting is not something I’ve personally felt in a work situation before and was a profound shock to my system.  This was not just a heated conversation, the red-tinted mist was starting to swirl.

During the meeting, I felt I’d tried everything I could to explain the roadblock that lay ahead, but the message just wasn’t getting through. A few hours of cooling off later, I realised this just couldn’t be the case. If the message wasn’t being understood, the problem lay with the messenger not the receiver. I needed to ‘Become the other’. Anyone who has been through the Zen Leader series has heard Ginny say these words numerous times. After the above board meeting, they resonated deeply for the first time and I realised how to move forward.

Over the last year, and the gradual transition back to face-to-face interactions again, I’ve become increasingly conscious of what is lying between two people when they communicate. We come into a conversation perfectly primed for messages to be skewed by the junk that covers our receptors, like layers of filters covering a lens.

When I’m listening to you what is distorting the communication flow? Focusing more on what I’m going to say next? The beep of an incoming WhatsApp? Past hurt that injects harm into your words where none exists? Trying to come up with a solution when you just want to be heard?  I could go on and on and these are just my own filters. Even if I practice deep listening, if ‘I’ get out of the way, the other person arrives at the conversation with their own rainbow layers.

A simple conversation can suddenly turn into a minefield, yet when we drop the egos and allow ourselves to connect freely, it can also be an experience in pure joy. With awareness, practice and, of course, time on the cushion, we can feel the joy more and more. Just imagine how much transformation would follow.

Wishing you a wonderful week.

Jen Ayres first attended a Zen Leadership program in 2018, which had an immediate and major impact on her life during a very difficult time. She’s (slowly) breathing into Zen practice, gradually understanding just how beneficial this practice is and sharing her journey with all of us.


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Published on May 04 2022