Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of September 16, 2013

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Communication Presence

(Spirituality at Work: Part 6)

How well do we communicate? Through our multitude of interactions each day, we communicate along various channels: in person through words we say, our tone of voice, facial expression, gesture and posture, and remotely by writing, by speaking by phone, radio, or video, live or recorded, and so on. How does all that communication relate to our spiritual inner work? There are two aspects of that relationship. First, to what degree are we present when we communicate? Second, to what degree is the content of our communication in keeping with our principles, such as kindness, honesty, productivity, and so forth?

Our brains have mechanisms that make it very easy for us to talk on and on with little or no presence or intention behind what we say. We may talk to kill time, to fill up the silence, or to draw attention to ourselves, even when we have nothing of substance to say. Simple greetings and inquiries have their importance. But what about all the rest of our talking? Does it matter? What function does it serve? We rightly feel that talking does bring us closer to people. But superficial talking only brings us superficially closer. Shared experience can go deeper in that regard. To the extent we are present, really being there with and experiencing the other person, our conversation takes on a different quality: it comes from a place of togetherness, of consciousness shared, even if only for those moments.

For many of us, communication is a primary part of how we earn our living. We canít just be silent, we canít just be there: we are required to speak. And we are required to listen. In both cases, presence matters. When we are present, the words we say have a different weight by the mere fact or rather the force of our presence. When we are present we can also focus more on listening; we are less distracted with planning our response or with our inner reactions to what we hear. We are more interested in what other people have to say.

Beyond that, presence changes the content of our communication. In presence, we are more aware of what we are saying and hearing, of its meaning, of its impact. In presence, we are more in contact with our mind and heart, and even more importantly with our conscience. So we make fewer mistakes. We say what we mean when appropriate. We have a better chance of getting our message across, a better chance of supporting others and not hurting them with what we say, and a better chance of hearing and understanding others in what they say and do not say. Presence gives us the flexibility and balance to surf the waves of communication as they happen.

In presence, we are there in that moment to stand behind what we say, to mean what we say. We come into our self in presence, so that we can speak from ourselves; we can be the one who is saying what we say. We can be the one who is hearing what we hear. Otherwise, words slip out of our mouth unintentionally. Otherwise, what others say to us passes us by with little notice.

Presence begins with attention. Communication presence means bringing more attention to the act of communicating, to saying what we say and to hearing what we hear. Communication presence means communicating with quality, with excellence, to speak well, with clarity and kindness, and to hear well.

For this week, practice communication presence, particularly in your work. Bring more intention and attention to what you say. Bring more intention and attention to listening. Be the one who is speaking when you speak and the one who listening when you listen.


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