8 Ways To Simplify How You Communicate: Creating Intentional Interactions.
The journey to minimalism is not in itself entirely minimal...there are many facets of your life that you choose to simplify, or not.
For me it went:
I entertained the notion of leading a simpler existence, less reliant of money and things, because I wanted to become a nomad.
At first I very much focused on the visible side of minimalism, the noticeable changes obvious to myself and those around me; I halved my wardrobe, discarded trinkets and random furnishings and stopped bringing in more random stuff.
Over the last two years, I have embraced minimalism wholeheartedly whilst travelling, gradually learning to that I can live happily with less things, and love what I do have more.
I cherish what I have, seek quality over quantity and try to maintain a feeling of lightness and freedom.
An entirely different area of simplifying has only recently come into my mindset.
So, I have always been a rambler. I love words, it’s as simple as that. I love that our vocabulary and language can be ever-changing and growing, something we expand with age and exploration.
But I have come to realize the benefit of stopping, thinking, speaking a little less, and choosing my words better.
In terms of written and spoken communication, the value of less can still very much apply.
Our style of communication can actually hold us back, with an over-abundance of words meaning our purpose and points get lost in a sea of confusion. Sometimes we don't say enough in fear of what others will say.
For example, I sometimes lack assertiveness and directness in how I interact with others and I have been known in the past as the person who might mutter or say a little too much when less would have sufficed fine.
I have tried to overcome this, not by suddenly pulling inner confidence from thin air, but by thinking about how I speak before I do so.
I try to be clearer, more concise and leave no doubt in the mind of the person I am communicating with in what I mean, want or need.
I don’t desire to create drama any more, directly or indirectly, by either letting my words run away from me or by not speaking up enough.
I don’t want to be a mutterer or a mumbler any longer. I don’t want to make others feel like I don’t know who I am or what I mean.
Maybe years of letting others make me feel inferior or insecure in myself has brought me up to this point.
I have come to a place where I want to live intentionally across the board so why wouldn’t I also deal with the issues that prevent me asking the universe for what I want and deserve via purposeful and intentional interactions?
It got me wondering about how can I de-clutter the intangible e.g. from my thoughts to my speech.
How can I realistically still be the fun, chatty and interested person I try to be in a conversation whilst also being less wordy and more to the point? Do I not risk coming across as a boring person void of personality?
I really want to pour my energy into my written words and generally feel a little less overwhelmed in the creative process. I therefore believe its important to conserve emotional energy where possible, and help others understand me even better, to ultimately reach my broader goals in life a little quicker.
That is part of the reason for me simplifying my communication style, but it's also because I want to quell my tendency toward irrational and anxious thinking. I often go from 0-10 on a scale of worry and trepidation and it shows itself in scattered, fast, emotional and unthinking speech.
I no longer ignore how my mind makes me behave and defeatedly believe that my anxiety is a natural thing; I have taken the time to regain some control and assess ways that I can minimize its impact on my daily life, most prominently by fostering more intentional interactions.
I believe that I have developed a clearer mind and an even calmer life by simplifying my communication style; from shorter emails and quicker responses, to facing head on the conversations which make me uncomfortable.
If you feel it's time to find simplify your life even further, for whatever reason, then keep reading:
8 Ways To Simplify How You Communicate:
Think Whilst You Speak
Apply the age-old idea of ‘Think before you speak’ but put a twist on it, and make it ‘Think before and as you speak’.
You can do this by talking slower, choosing your words carefully, not feeling as if you can’t take a moment to craft exactly what you truly wish to say.
People are often rushing, from one place to the next, from one idea to the next, and never stop to see what fresh inspiration can come from the pauses in breath we take between speaking.
Embrace being able to think through your ideas before and whilst you discuss them because in a conversation, new ideas emerge and your point might clarify even more in your own mind.
Write It Down
If you are struggling with a particular thing you wish to communicate with someone, write down some bullet points with a few keywords on the topic.
Do this prior to a conversation, be it via phone or email, and help yourself be efficient and clear in what you want to say and need to achieve.
Try to avoid mentally forming a long monologue in your own mind and building a sense of anxiety before you talk.
You needn't pour out a raft of information and stumble over yourself, resulting in your original message getting lost in a sea of language.
Appreciate Being Quiet
Celebrate the ability to be quiet and selective with how much you talk each day. We can expend a lot of mental energy if we try to be talkative or engaging every moment the opportunity arises.
Sometimes I prefer to sit and think more instead of externalize my every idea and whim.
Or, I write my ideas down in a brief form and I find I can return to them far easier later on, having not verbally put ideas out into the world that I then forget about.
I embrace how nice it is to just be still and peaceful, even in a world where it’s pressed upon us that we must speak up loudly and proudly.
Don't Paint The Silence
I am especially guilty of talking too much when someone asks me a question, in that as soon as the silence after the answer happens, I try to fill it with even more detail.
I think I'm just trying to stave off awkwardness or believe that the silence is indicative of my failure to get my point across.
I have learned recently that I do not need to fill those quieter moments, and instead realize that a conversation is a two-way thing; if the other person chooses not to immediately respond, let them.
Don't pounce on the quiet moment and recognize it as a natural and important part of allowing others to process their thoughts.
During any heated or difficult conversation, listen closer, remain calm, and keep eye contact with the person you are speaking to.
We are all human, all afflicted with the same inner crisis and neurosis, it's just that some of us hide it better beneath a veneer of intimidation. But we are all just trying to appear strong to in-turn, feel strong.
The best way to ensure you don’t leave behind a conversation with words unspoken or ideas poorly gotten across, is to overlook the individual you are talking to.
Overlook how they make you feel or how you appear to make them feel. Focus only on why and what you are trying to achieve from the conversation.
What is your desired outcome and can remaining calm and patient help you achieve it more easily?
Don't Neglect Others
Don’t put off replying to those lingering conversations or messages and instead view it as if you having a real life talk, and you simply stop talking, for days on end.
Surely it can be pretty confusing for others, leaving that time for them to build up negative ideas in their mind about you e.g. so and so doesn’t care enough to reply, there not a true friend.
Sometimes we see a message, we put our phone down and it lives our mind completely. Then days pass and the message remains ignored. Often this is accidental, the symptom of a busy life, but other times we simply put off talking to people when we can’t predict how or when they will respond back.
But it’s time to take charge of this and endeavour to provide some kind of quick reply to each message we receive even if it's simply to say ‘I will get back to you later when we can properly talk’. The difference between a simply reply and no reply at all is hurting someone’s feelings or not hurting them.
Our fundamental human need for the interaction, companionship and the attention of others needn’t always be superseded by our supposed busy-ness.
Accept People's Differences
Recognize that no matter how clear and confident you speak others will not always deliver an equally measured response. But you can still retain your calm and concise approach, and you don’t have to lose your control to feelings of anger.
Sometimes a blow up will happen, and it will often come from you, but if we practice ‘Keep calm and carry on’ , on our side at least, we can stop things escalating beyond what we need to be dealing with. Arguments are often fuelled by passion but they can equally be fuelled by using thoughtless, unkind or defensive words.
When you shout, they shout back even louder and when you go silent, they press you harder. By no means should you back down but you should try to argue differently. Argue but argue in a way that is more likely to deliver a better mutual outcome than if you rally someone into agreement.
Life is too short to spend it trying to constantly fight with our loved ones and the change the mind of another when all we should be doing is living by the example of our own values.
Postpone Irrelevant Thoughts
As a chronic over-thinker, an anxiety-sufferer and a generally argumentative personality, I find it incredibly hard to shut my mind off. I find it near impossible to not play out entire conversations in my own head way before they are due to happen.
Newsflash, to myself, I am neither psychic nor do I need to take every thought that enters my mind and give it hours of my life. Neither do you!
I have gotten into the life-changing habit of mentally pigeon-holing a thought or idea. I acknowledge the thought, file it under 'Emergency' or 'Completely non-emergent and just plain silly', and act accordingly.
I don't need to map out conversations I might not even have or don't need to have until some future point. I certainly do not need to act immediately on my every thought because time changes your mind and so much of what we go to say or do is driven by a passing mood or emotion.
Practise acknowledging thoughts and then post-pone them; you can ruminate on any idea you wish, but only when its appropriate and healthy to do so.
It's easy to feel powerless to the way our minds work, and its harder to change than to stay the same.
The way we communicate with the outside world is more than just sounds or performance; it can be a vehicle through which we positively change the way our brains work.
We can create the space and the peace needed to figure ourselves out and attract the things which make us happy.
It is possible to create a minimal way of life, one that builds deeper connections and more fulfilling interactions; we just have to balance the silence with the noise and equalize the thinking mind, with the quiet one.
Thanks for reading!
Hannah here, one half of NomaderHowFar. I love reading, the beach, proper fish and chips, and a good cup of tea. But I mostly like to chat about minimalism, simplifying your life, the beauty of travel and sometimes I get a bit deep. Get to know us here!
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