Unlocking Connection: The Breakthrough Method for Effective Communication

happy couple by a fountain on a sunny day

Do you know someone who needs to improve their communication? Is it you? Skilled, intentional communication is key to successful relationships, careers, parenting, and even time spent with a customer service representative. . Every individual communicates differently. And that includes verbal communication and nonverbal or body language. Most people communicate based on their personal views, views of others, past and present experiences as well as through the lens of those perspectives.  This way of communicating causes misunderstandings, as well as offensive and defensive reactions.

Our Walking On Water Living coaches and workshops focus on improving communication, based on personality types. We will share a handy, easy-to-remember method for improving communication here:

The L.O.V. Communication Method

If someone communicates well with you, how do you feel? Seen? Heard? Loved? Our method uses the word LOVE as its basis to make a tool that is easy to remember and focused on improving your communication. Learning the  L.O.V method helps acknowledge our differences and personalities. When we choose to develop our communication skills by valuing others in their communication style and L.O.V, we move forward in our identity of being a connector and influencer.  We become more of a responder, in care and respect towards those with whom we interact.

L.O.V. is an acronym. The actions of L.O.V. are rarely (or even not all) expressed towards others. Equipping on L.O.V. and the 4 personality types is the foundation of the WOW Living Communication Workshop.

The “L” of L.O.V.

First comes the L in L.O.V. The L stands for LISTEN. Most often people think of talking when you discuss communication. But skilled communication starts long before you open your mouth. People claim that they listen to others.  But do we really?

example of poor communication between man and woman in kitchen

Try this test of your listening skills:

Imagine you and I are having a conversation. I open the conversation about ex-president Donald Trump, and I am wearing a MAGA supporter hat.

STOP and take notice!

So, at this moment, what is your mindset or how did your posture change? Here is where you might even decide to stop reading and leave this website.

Please, continue and choose to get beyond the statement of that sentence. I  have done this test in a group of 30 people. Their eyes rolled, their body language shifted and there was a cold chill in the room.

How did you do on the test?

This test helps you recognize if you are a responsive and active listener or a reactive and passive listener.

I commend you if you continue reading. You either want to learn and develop as a listener (or you support Donald Trump) or you have chosen to be an active listener. Let’s continue testing your listening skills.

Now, imagine you and I now are having a conversation and I bring up President Biden, and I speak as a supporter of his views.

How are you doing with this statement? Does this move you to shut down?  The above reactions can apply, from the previous test using Donald Trump as the topic. Take a moment to notice your mindset and body language. How we see and hear things determines whether we are truly giving the gift of being heard and seen to those that we interact with most. These are moments of opportunity to self-reflect and answer ourselves with a truly examined heart.

Are You An Active or Passive Listener?

Thinking of that test (or even an uncomfortable conversation you recently had) are you responsive or reactive listener? Are you an active or passive listener?

Why should we care? A main reason to develop our communication skills is to improve our relationships. It could be in our marriages or intimate relationships, or with our children–to gain understanding and influence, or with our family and friends to show that we want to continue the connection. There are those of you who are seeking communication to further your career, to work better with co-workers, or to increase your leadership to influence others. In my last 20 years as a Coach, I have found that when listening is reactive and weak, it interferes with all areas of relationships.  What if we develop communication skills that become our identity to be a responsive, active listener?

What is the difference between a reactive or passive listener versus a responsive or active listener?

husband and wife communication on a porch swing

Reactive Listener

A reactive or passive listener reacts offensively or defensively. Instead of listening they think about what to say next.  Once they create a dialogue in their mind while another is talking, the auditory function of the brain will miss part of the conversation. The listener (or non-listener)  appears to listen but has closed themselves off. When the listener engages (or interrupts) before hearing the whole conversation, they have blocked a potential heart connection. The conversation gets polarized and will not be able to find common ground. It devalues others and can cause damage to the relationship. This is what we call, “entering into enemy mode.”

Responsive Listener

A responsive, active listener responds assertively. Their mind and thoughts are focused on the message of who is communicating to the listener. The auditory part of their brain is open and ready to receive the full information before engaging. Their focus is on the speaker, the words of the heart enter into the listener’s mind. The mind receives the whole conversation, giving the speaker the gift of truly being heard and seen. The listener’s appearance is relaxed and engaged with expression and body language. There is the opportunity for the conversation to find common ground and has more of a potential for harmony. This type of listening values others and builds relationships. This is what we call, “being in relational mode.”

But, being a responsive, active listener is incomplete without finishing out the rest of the acronym of L.O.V.

The “O” of L.O.V.

Now, let’s move on to the letter O in L.O.V. to continue expanding our communication: The O represents the need to OBSERVE, to see others beyond our perspective. Observe who they are, their body language, and the pitch and tone of their voice. Without judgment, notice external aspects of the speaker, like how they dress, and what they do for a living. External clues will give you insights into communicating with respect and care for that unique individual. It is also important to observe where your mind goes and what body language you communicate to the speaker. Remember, your body language will indicate whether the speaker’s message is being heard. So, be observant of emotions and the heart of the individual.

Walking On Water Living Communication Research Findings

During the listening test at our Communication Workshop, as I brought up the names of Trump and Biden with the group of 30 people, I observed and became more aware of those who were responsive, active listeners, as well as those who were reactive, passive listeners. The reactive, passive listener had their arms crossed, some leaned back suddenly or shifted back and forth with their body weight. Most of them couldn’t make eye contact. This sent me a message of reactive, passive listening, a sign  of disrespect and lack of care. They treated me as an enemy.

Be curious as you listen and observe. Their story and the background behind the scenes can shed light on the message and the messenger’s viewpoint, this can bring compassion and care. Remember there could be more behind the scenes of their communication.

The “V” of L.O.V.

When we are responsive, active listeners and observers of others beyond the tunnel visions of our viewpoint, we gain the ability to step into the big V of L.O.V, VALIDATION. I have seen and witnessed the power of Validation. It shifts the environment and communication. The Validator gains influence and is a person of safety and one who cares for others. The golden rule is “Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.” We all want to be heard and seen. It is alarming to me that validating others becomes like having a frog in our throats. The frog gets stuck and positive communication ceases.

Why is it easier to correct, or tell someone they are wrong than to validate them? To care beyond our cynical, negative patterns. Validation doesn’t mean that you agree, it is just an act of being a responsive, active listener and observer that we as human beings are to be valued.

To Validate someone, keep these things in mind:

  1. Open your heart
  2. Release the thoughts in your mind
  3. Watch the tone and pitch of your voice
  4. Soften and relax your body

Remember to breathe. And please don’t cross your arms. At the very least we can acknowledge them, by offering “that it is hard,” “sounds frustrating”, or “it is difficult to watch or witness.”

work meeting with good communication between both sides shown with smiles and a handshake

Imagine I say, “Biden opens the border to benefit the economy, increase the workforce, and lower inflation.”

Or I say, “Trump closes the border because tax benefits go to illegal immigrants, and poverty and violence have increases due to the large amount of illegal immigrants flooding our country.” (I am not here to debate belief systems or politics: yours or mine. I want to communicate the importance of validating even those with opposing views.)

What Validation Sounds Like

For example, to Validate, you would reply to my statements with, “Valerie, I hear that you support Biden, to open the borders, increase the economy, increase the workforce, and lower inflation.” Or, “Valerie, I hear that you support Trump, to close the borders, promote justice, and increase the security of our country.”

I have witnessed people on both sides of the aisle engage in a respectful, responsive discussion that changes the atmosphere and the ability to share and learn together.

For example, I have witnessed the atmosphere change with the use of L.O.V. with two women who attended one of our Communication Workshops. One was a woman of mercy, a woman who nurtures others. The other was a hard-core cowgirl, who works as an electrician. Her focus was on justice. They had opposite beliefs on gun control. These women were sitting next to each other, and boy, oh boy, could you feel the hostility. As they stepped into being responsive, active listeners, each observed the other and they validated each other. At the end of the workshop, they had a connection of care and respect. They left with an understanding and a hug. Each felt heard and even understood. They walked away with their beliefs intact, but not as enemies. Validation builds trust.

So, please, take the commitment to L.O.V. Be a Listener who Observes and Validates.Use this acronym to remind you to care about others, see beyond your tunnel vision, and take the opportunity to validate the humans around us.  Be an atmosphere changer.

Learn to LOVE.

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