A couple of weeks ago I had another session with a team I have been team-coaching for a couple of years now. After all the work we have already done, they nowadays tend to just call me over when they have complex issues to discuss and find agreements upon. Often these are the themes that they have attempted to deal with a few times already, but got stuck, and so I come as a facilitator and a conflict mediator, to help them through.
In my work I always follow the principle first understanding, and only then solutions and so we started with a sociocratic circle of achieving deep and empathic mutual understanding by providing space for everybody in the circle to express their thoughts and feelings about the issue, while others being asked to reflect back what they heard, in order to check whether a true understanding has happened. The focus was not on repeating merely the words of course, but really hearing the meaning behind them.
Yes, to complete such a circle with a group of ten people took almost two hours, yet at the completion there was much more mutual understanding than ever before, and this resulted in profound shifts in the perception of the problem they were dealing with.
After that we have created the first proposal and moved into everybody giving a first response to it, and then the same thing happened that I always find so inspiring and touching. Four people that were beforehand against any other ideas but their own, and that would not even hear of any proposals like the one we were having on the table now, very peacefully and thoughtfully said that after having heard everybody, their own perception and understanding has shifted and they were now happy to go along with the proposal.
Witnessing these shifts is what brings juice and joy to the work I do. This is why I actually keep on doing my work at all. To witness this beautiful human understanding and connection to happen. When actually a true communication happens, not only people opening their mouths and letting some voices out, but actually also hearing each other.
Because after a quarter of a century I have spent in dealing professionally with human communication, I am pretty sure that human communication it NOT about speaking only. It is not only about persuading other people into our own little perception. No, it is far more than that.
It is primarily about listening to the different perspective and understanding what we did not understand up to now. It is about broadening our own horizons, seeing Life from many many different perspectives. It is about integrating it all and transcending it, as Ken Wilber would perhaps express it.
Communication is really about growing, through careful listening, into what we have not been yet. It is about transcending the old and limited ideas and evolving into new and deeper understanding. It is not about fighting for our tiny little worlds and trying to superimpose them onto others, trying to ultimately have power over them. What a sad little life this would be indeed.
It is about opening up. And yes, it is about a joyful willingness to be influenced.