The Meaning of Your Communication

“The meaning of your communication is the response that you get.”  (Coaching and NLP [neurolinguistic processing] presupposition.)

A few days ago I called my sister, like I do, when I need someone to listen and to help me process events in my life.  I said to her, “I just need you to listen and maybe ask some questions so I can figure this out.  Today I do not need advice.”  And she said, “Okay.”  She is good at that.

I told her my story and she listened for quite awhile.  Then an odd thing – she started telling me how she would handle my situation.  I probably started to push back a little and/or sound uncomfortable.  I started thinking, hmmm, this is not what I really need right now.  Our conversation ended somewhat abruptly because my kids came home.

Later that day, she texted me and she said (this is a quote), “The conversation felt weird this morning.  Maybe I’m making it up.  Can u talk for a few min later around 530 or 6?”

I said, “Sure,” and we did.

When we talked later, my sister said to me, “I just felt like something wasn’t right.  And I realized that I had given you quite a lot of advice instead of just listening and being curious with you as you had asked.”  She said, “I know it’s an excuse, but I was sick and I didn’t have the energy to listen the way you wanted.”

I said, “Yes, I understand; it takes energy to listen like that.”  And I told her I was not upset about it.  But I thanked her for checking in.woman-on-phone

Then she said to me, “There’s another thing and I take full responsibility for it.  That is that I wish you would have asked me about my engagement.”  Then she said, “but you know, I could have just told you about it.”  I said, “No.  You’re right.  I’m sorry.  I can’t believe I didn’t.  Will you tell me?”  And then I heard the most beautiful story about my sister getting engaged to an amazing man.

How often do we do this?  Who talks like this?  It was so great for me to have my sister (1) listen deeply enough to notice something might be wrong (2) ask about it; and (3) take responsibility for her part in it.  Most impressive to me was her willingness to even take ownership for her own feelings when I didn’t ask her a particular question.  I believe this ownership of communication with others is the key to successful relationships.  I also think it is often easier said than done.

This is the meaning of the presupposition in coaching that says, “The meaning of your communication is the response that you get.”  It’s a hard pill to swallow for some, but can make all the difference when you take responsibility for what happens with other people when you are communicating with them.

–This blog is for Wendy, because it’s not about the nail:

About the Author

Picture of Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching professionals and leaders since early 2008. She runs Transformative Coaching Essentials, a coach training program that produces first rate Professional Coaches and "Coach-Style Leaders." She coaches individually and works with organizations to improve communication, time management, productivity and ultimately bring greater results.

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