Communication with others can be the most challenging and frustrating aspects of leading a ministry. There are a multitude of workshops and books we can use to give ourselves tools and techniques for communicating in difficult times. Nonviolent Communication and Crucial Conversations have served us well for the past decade by giving us excellent practices for being more conscious and intentional about our speaking.
From Unity’s teachings, we know everyone is spiritually precious. Yet sometimes earthly and psychological barriers get in the way of beholding the Christ in others.
In my Interpersonal Relationship Skills class at Unity Institute, I pass around a set of chakra eyeglasses. Their lenses are colored red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, indigo, and deep purple. The students write down their emotional and visceral reactions to each color. When they share their responses to each color lens, they are surprised that others have experiences different than their own. For example: For some, the color red elicited “energizing,” “stimulating,” “warmth,” and “exciting;” for others red was dark and depressing, angry, painful, and debilitating.
We each have our own lenses. They have been formed by past experiences, current associations, and our brain chemistry and early primitive responses. We have particular lenses for our various roles in life as parent, teacher, meditator, friend, or student. When I am looking through a lens of hearing words that “push my buttons,” I may get emotionally upset. If I catch the upset, breathe deeply, and remember my lens as a spiritual being, I can change the current moment with kindness. The awareness of our own lens and the lenses of others determines how well we communicate at a given moment. Do we listen deeply with an open heart, or do we close down and rehearse what we are going to say in response to what we think we heard the other say? What is our intention for the conversation? Is it to bring more clarity and love into your world? Is it to clarify, teach, win or pontificate?
From personal experience, I know the best conversations happen when people are authentic. We share what is present in our consciousness now and we listen with the intent to appreciate and understand the other person. If I am spiritually centered and willing to behold the Christ in the other, the conversation can be a holy experience.