The Art of Talking Without Talking
While I’m out this week, I’ve lined up some serious ‘guest posters’ this week. Hope you enjoy! I’ve gotten to know Tony Alicea over the last year via blogging and social media. One thing’s for certain: Tony is passionate about helping others discover their identity in life. He lives in south Florida and is engaged to the woman of his dreams. You can find him on Twitter and his blog.
Enter The Dragon is one of my favorite martial arts movies of all time. Most people remember the classic fight scene in the room of mirrors with Han. But I’m more a movie quote fanatic so I always find lines that stick out to me and use them in my every day conversations.
In one scene, Bruce Lee is on a boat with another guy who is being a bully. He gets in Lee’s face and says “What’s your style?” Lee replies, “My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.” He then proceeds to trick the guy into getting in a dinghy and doesn’t get in with him. The guy has to float behind the boat holding on to a rope for the rest of the trip.
Fighting without fighting. I love that line. I love that style. So much so that I incorporate it into my communication style.
Historically I have not been a very good communicator. I always had trouble expressing myself in words. From a young age, I always deferred to the written page as my outlet. Passing notes in school was always better than face to face conversations. If you ever got any kind of greeting card from me, you would feel special. Words just always flowed freely on the page. Out of my mouth? Not so much.
In recent years, I’ve grown tremendously in my ability to communicate. I talk much more than I used to. So much so that I began to feel like I was becoming a really good communicator.
I can talk about my day, I can talk about my job, I can talk about God (sometimes you have to shut me up on that subject). I don’t have a problem communicating the what. My problem is and always has been the why.
I’m not even married yet and I’m already learning a lot about myself. My fiancé is, in fact, a great communicator. She’s also a great teacher.
The other day as we were talking, she was expressing how important it is for her to get to know me. Through our discussion, I began to realize that you can know a lot about someone without really knowing them at all.
She helped me understand why it was important to share the why. The what isn’t who I am. The why is who I am.
Even if I could tell her that something made me happy or sad, if I didn’t tell her why, the situation was simply a symptom.
After digging a little deeper, I realized that I internalize my emotions because I have never felt that I’ve been given permission to express them. I was always afraid that if people really knew how I felt, I would upset or disappoint them. And then they would leave.
So everything becomes “fine”.
How was your day? Fine
How do you feel about this? It’s fine.
Are you upset? No, it’s fine.
I’m so sorry that I did. It’s fine, don’t worry about it.
Everything is fine. Just don’t get upset. Just don’t leave me.
And there it is.
It was a difficult thing to discover about myself. Especially just as I started to feel good about being a good communicator. But it was important because she told me something that was key. This is a bit of a paraphrase but she said, “I can handle you not being fine.”
Without even knowing it, that was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed permission to share not only the what but the why. I realized that effective communication isn’t just sharing what you think someone wants to hear, but sharing your heart fully.
I’ll end with another quote from Enter The Dragon, courtesy of Roper:
“Would you look at that? A woman like that could teach you a lot about yourself.”