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When it comes to reforming communication, remember the four Rs

Yesterday we talked about how acknowledging our need to learn new ways to communicate is one of the foundations of mindful communication.

Today, lets deepen this conversation just a little more.

How do we know that we need to work on something, in the first place?

"Remember that Reform starts with the four Rs"

1) Reminder – everything in our environment can act as a reminder if we let it. We hear an inspirational story, a lecture, an article or even a social media post. This reminder confirms what is true within our nature. It makes sense because the knowledge of what works and what doesn't is already hardwired into us. This one reason why inspirational quotes are so inspirational – they eloquently express what we feel and know to be true within.

For example, here is a quote about the power of words:
Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words...

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Get in touch with your intention

Before we start looking at the communication skills, let us explore the foundations of mindful communication.

Mindful communication, as we said yesterday, begins in the heart and so the first step in learning to communicate mindfully is to become conscious of your intention when you speak and listen.
And then begin to set intentions for all your conversations.

Setting intentions for our communication is a powerful exercise. Intentions determine the full consequences of our thoughts, words, and actions. It is our intentions which form the spirit of our activities and the emotional tone of our efforts.

From an Islamic spiritual perspective, intentions form the foundation of all acts of worship. Without the intention, even prayer does not qualify as an act of worship. And conversely, by setting an appropriate intention, any act of everyday living can become an act of worship.

This implies that two actions which look apparently identical, will be different in spirit depending on the...

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Beyond effective communication - Mindful Communication

Today let us expand our definition of effective communication.

The skills of effective communication, which include excellent use of language and grammar, saying what we mean and meaning what we say, are extremely valuable in a professional, public and sometimes personal context.

In personal relationships, however, the skills of effective communication may not be enough to connect authentically with others and to build relationships.

In personal relationships, I prefer to use the term Mindful Communication or Conscious Communication.

Mindful communication goes further than effective communication in building relationships.

Mindful communication is communication that is intentional, purposeful, conscious and compassionate. It is communication that comes from the heart and aims to reach the heart of another. To communicate mindfully means to have a "heart to heart" with another human being.

To communicate mindfully we focus on:

Self-empathy: a deep and compassionate awareness of our...

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What is effective communication?

Communication is defined as "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs." So communication is the process of sharing information, thoughts and feelings between people through speaking, writing or body language.

Effective communication takes place when the message received is the same as the message intended. To put it simply, effective communication between us happens when I say something to and you understand what I am trying to say and you "get it".

Simple enough, right?

It turns out that miscommunication is actually far more common than effective communication.

As George Bernard Shaw said, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

When you work in mediation, in the legal field or in counseling, you see that almost 80% of cases are a result of some form of misunderstanding and lack of effective communication. Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Make Friends and Influence People," said,...

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Our survival depends upon our ability to communicate

The ability to communicate is related to the survival of the species itself.

Until quite recently, scientists used to think that man survived through the ages based on strength to brave the elements, search for food and build shelters.

But that view has since evolved.

Since the mid 90s brain studies have proven that it is not the strongest of the species that survived the longest but rather those who could best cooperate with one another in their search for food and building shelters. When ancient man communicated and cooperated with other homo sapiens and built families and tribes, all members had a greater chance of survival.

Although we may no longer be fighting for our survival as a species on a daily basis, we can still witness the life and death importance of communication for a newborn baby who learns very early that she has to get the attention of her parents if she is hungry or wet.

The need for contact and communication with the mother is not just for meeting physical...

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Let’s talk about communication

"Effective communication" is a buzz word in psychology and self development literature. A quick Google search on effective communication resulted in about 74,600,000 results in 0.63 seconds - yes that is 74 million plus results!

Clearly this is something that we human beings care about and are concerned about.

At some level, we know that communication is what connects us to others of our species. We can sense that we can meet our human need for connection if we can be understood by, and in turn, understand those who matter to us.

The impact of our communication skills, of course, goes way beyond intimate relationships. In the workplace, in the community, in leadership roles and in the world, our effectiveness as a human being depends greatly on our ability to communicate with others.

Something that is so intrinsically tied to our success and wellbeing should just come naturally, right?

Turns out that while the ability to communicate is a God-given gift, the ability to communicate...

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Be generous of spirit (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

Simple advice for improved social relationships:

If you are greeted, then return the greetings more warmly. If you are favoured, then repay the obligation manifold; but he who takes the initiative will always excel in merit.
Imam Ali (as)

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Responsible leadership (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

It is sooo much easier to preach rather than practice, isn't it?

It is so easy to see how others need to change their ways and so much more challenging to see our own shortcomings.

This is especially challenging for people in positions of power and authority because they are not subject to much feedback from peers or superiors.

This is why it is especially important for those of us in positions of influence or leadership to engage in self reflection and self growth.

Whoever wants to be a leader should educate himself before educating others. Before preaching to others he should first practice himself. Whoever educates himself and improves his own morals is superior to the man who tries to teach and train others.
Imam Ali (as)

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The wisdom of the young and the mature (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

As we said yesterday, Imam Ali (as) cautioned that
One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

One way to prevent being a know-it-all is to consult others. Reaching out for a different perspective is a sign of courage and maturity.

Imam Ali (as) was a great believer in seeking counsel.

He said:
Nothing helps quite like consultation

and

Nothing is correct if you avoid consultation

He also believed in consulting people of different generations. He said:

If you need counsel about some matter that has suddenly happened to you, then begin by exposing it to the spontaneity of the young, for surely their minds are sharper, and their intuition is quicker; then after that, refer it to the judgment of those who are mature and old, so that they can analyse it, and decide what is best for it, for surely they are the most experienced.

Sharp minds plus the wisdom of experience – what a powerful combination!

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Keep learning - (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

A little knowledge, it is said, is a dangerous thing.

When we first start learning about something, the increase in our knowledge about that thing can sometimes lead us to believe that we know all there is to know.

Imam Ali (as) says:
One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

On the contrary, the more we learn about something, the more aware we become about how little we know.

Here is how Imam Ali (as) puts it:
The man of knowledge is the one who recognizes that what is known is very little compared to what is not known, and as a result he considers himself ignorant, and accordingly he increases his efforts to know more by going out in search of knowledge.

Humility, he also said, is the product of knowledge.

In other words, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

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