Yasodhara Romero Fernandes as seen on: bodyandsoul.com.au
The key to getting what you want - at work and in your interpersonal relationships - is effective, authentic communication. And this is how to starty.
How willing are you to be different? The answer to this question may surprise you, and it will offer a good indication of how truthful and authentic you allow yourself to be when you communicate, whether it's in a job interview, at home or with friends.
For most people, talking is easy – women tend to use around 20,000 words per day (more than 20 words each minute), and men utter around 7000. But using those words to communicate what you actually, truly mean is a lot more difficult than you may realise.
From the time we are born, we begin to be aware of the opinions and judgements of others. When we express ourselves in a certain way as babies and toddlers, the people around us will laugh and clap. When we express ourselves in other ways, they will frown or chastise us.
In each of the above cases, we are communicating authentically – we are too young to know how to not be true to ourselves – but we begin to recognise that our uninhibited expression creates feedback that is sometimes pleasant, and sometimes not.
Over time, in a natural need to feel accepted and acknowledged, we each begin to tailor our communication style and content in ways that will appease the judgement of others. We begin to dismiss or ignore aspects of ourselves that are not welcomed; we make parts of ourselves ‘wrong’ and, eventually, we often forget that we even possess certain skills or inherent points of view.
Importantly, in our day-to-day interactions – at school, in interviews, when we meet new people, and even with our family – we fall victim to a constant and unconscious monitoring of our own behaviour. Before we even speak, we are filtering out the authentic words or actions that will bring unwanted and unpleasant feedback.
A common example of this in modern society is the plight of the young girl with natural leadership skills. Too often, parents and others in authority see a young girl taking charge and say “don’t be so bossy”. Over time, the girl learns to judge that capacity as being ‘wrong’ in some way. She starts to dismiss her capacity for authority and soon forgets the extent to which she is actually capable of leadership.
In time, a girl like this can grow into a woman who finds it difficult to speak up for herself, because in communicating her true needs or desires, she is being asked be authentic. In being authentic, she will naturally gravitate toward assertiveness and dominance… and these are parts of her that she fears, dreads or has forgotten. So, the woman with latent leadership skills chooses not to speak authentically at all. By judging her natural expression, we take a leader and turn her into a smaller version of herself.
Because of this cycle of judgement, one that is widespread in society, we all fear authentic communication to varying degrees. Some examples are obvious – for instance 75% of people are afraid of speaking in public – but other effects are more subtle. In my case, a professional singer and performer, I toured the world eagerly using my voice to express and entertain. But for years, my body resisted this expression – I developed vocal nodules and had a tremble in my voice that I could not remove, no matter how hard I trained or how well I developed the right techniques.
Eventually my voice did become more pure and effortless – but not only because of the physical or technical adjustments. I learned how to be me, without fear of judgement of others. In this authenticity, I learned how to connect with the story, song or information I was sharing. My voice liberated itself from all resistance and constraints, and I discovered I was able to intuitively and effortlessly adapt my communication style – the volume, intensity, words and emotions – to fit the audience’s needs and enable a deep connection with those who were listening to me.
Once I implemented authentic communication in my performances, I quickly realised that I could apply this truth in all facets of my life – in my business, relationships and everyday interactions. By being all of me, I discovered that there was nothing to fix; there was no wrongness. Consider applying this principle next time you're asking for something, or in a job interview.
Authentic communication is about learning to embrace all of who you are and having the willingness to recognise the needs of your listener. (Ask yourself “what can this person hear?”) In doing so, your communication adjusts, intuitively, and you are able to get your point across without diminishing yourself.
Yasodhara Romero Fernandes is a professional performer, vocal coach, performance and communications expert and certified Right Voice for You facilitator. As a Right Voice for You certified facilitator, Yasodhara conducts classes and private consultations around the world.