This one word is so powerful and we all know how it can dictate outcomes, affect the quality of our lives and how it can make us feel. There is a lot of research on communication and even though many of us have had training on the topic of communication, it still feels like there is so much to be learned and put into practice. I have been thinking a lot about communication as I am transitioning into a new role currently and trying to focus on how effective communication looks and feels and the word I keep landing on is “connection”. When I reflect on experiences where the communication was great, I felt a sense of connection and authenticity.
Brene Brown says that authenticity is a practice; a collection of choices we make every day. Authenticity is something that many people, including me, have to work at. I have been tempted to trade my authenticity for approval or to avoid confrontation. Authenticity means being comfortable in our own skin; skin which has bruises and imperfections. I know people who believe in the concept of perfect imperfections but I’m still working toward embracing this fully.
I found something recently though that resonated with me and is helping me to see the concept of imperfections and brokenness differently. Kintsukuroi means to repair with gold and it’s the art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer and in turn understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. Being authentic, especially in communication, is accepting and loving who you really are and taking responsibility for sharing yourself with others in a way that leads to mutual understanding.
It seems to me that a genuine connection in communication actually requires two conversations that happen simultaneously. Content is the first conversation. Paying attention to the words we choose helps us own our message and reduce the chance of misinterpretation. Our non-verbal communication is the second conversation and it is the one we processed first and where our authenticity is either supported or destroyed. We determine intent from what we see and feel so awareness of our nonverbal communication is critical.
Nonverbal communication includes our body language and our tone of voice. When we are communicating, people are interpreting our facial expressions, posture, movement, appearance, eye contact, sounds, gestures and HOW we say our words. Two people could say the very same phrase but have it perceived completely differently as a result of the nonverbal interaction.
Maybe you have some situation or person with whom communication feels broken? Instead of avoiding it, choose to believe in Kintsukuroi so that your connection is stronger and even more beautiful as a result. Choose to carefront the situation. Carefronting means that you care enough about the relationship to confront what is not working. Communicating authentically will hopefully result in mutual understanding acting like the gold glue bringing together the broken pieces to create an even better genuine connection.