09 Nov #27: Use Dead Air to Improve Your Conversations
Ever had that feeling of REALLY knowing someone? You know them so well you can reach inside them and predict their actions from a simple conversations.
If you answered yes to that question, I’m willing to bet you ‘re a good communicator.
Communication is your access point to achieving depth in important relationships and purposeful interactions.
Words give the meaning and intent of your behaviour, and actually they’re one of the best tools in your possession…
To reach the heart and soul of your significant -other you’ll need to leave them with just one feeling.
Words create a feeling that is soothing and calm
But unfortunately conflict in relationships produces just the opposite feeling: rage, fear, fight, hurt and withdrawal.
People want connection
Everyone wants to feel they’re not alone and you can impart this feeling with your communication.
Here are 5 skills for great communication.
Listen -It’s more than words
As you know communication is not just the words you string together.
It’s the whole gambit of non-verbal communication. This includes the facial expression, tone of voice, behavioural expression, eye contact and mannerisms etc.
Sometimes the non -verbal part of our communication speaks louder than the words. The hardest part is tuning in to that layer of talk.
The only way to do that is to create pauses and space of silence.
2. Get comfortable with Dead Air
If you’re comfortable with the dead air – then you’re a good listener.
Dead air is the space between you when there is silence. Most people are uncomfortable with long pauses and silence.
The term comes from Radio where silence is not good. But in meaningful conversations, this skill can serve you.
Being comfortable with the dead air can allow you to hold the space for them.
It allows the other person to-
- explore their thoughts further,
- process a little bit more
- internalise where their thoughts are at,
- integrate what you have said and
- go deeper with additional insight.
It’s a wonderful skill- silence.
So don’t be tempted to fill the space with words and chatter get comfortable with the unfilled space – the dead air can be the loudest of sounds.
3. Validate- It creates the WE in conversations
If you want to communicate love and care then be on their side. There is nothing more validating to a person then feeling you are on their tem, you have their back and you agree. Now I know you may not agree with everything they say but can you find just one thing to give an almighty nod and say yes to?
Agreement says –
- we are together against another,
- we are in union and bonded
- we are a team.
Now if you really disagree with their point of view… then validate and respond to their feeling
4. Respond to the feeling
Label the feeling that you think or intuit you is hearing or repeat back and articulate the feeling they are communicating.
Here are examples-
“That must have been hurtful”
“I can see you’re upset”
“ I imagine using that tone/word/ behaviour would have been upsetting”.
Your agreement is with the emotion and the possible emotional response rather than the content of the message.
5. Soothe them
When a person expresses heightened emotions you can bet their system is responding with the flight or flight response and what they need is a soothing ointment that will make them feel safe and supported.
It’s a way of making the environment safe for them to have full freedom of expression.
6. Go Deeper
If you want to cultivate depth in your interactions, you’ll need to ask better questions.
Firstly ask open-ended questions- these start with What, how and why and do not result in a dual response – either Yes or No.
Instead, they open up the dialogue so the person can explore further with you.
So you see maintaining heartfelt conversations requires you to listen with depth and listening with your heart for the feelings emotions and then allowing time for the unfilled/loud /dead air is a great idea.
Iman Iskander is a Clinical Social Worker with a psychotherapy practice in Sydney. She is passionate about interactional intelligence -between people and within each person. She specialises in human interactions, mindful relationships and self-mastery. Iman holds engaging workshops for the public and in the corporate sector in Sydney CBD.