Recently, I was reminded about the importance of effective communication. I consider myself to be a good communicator━not great, but good━but there are times when I could definitely do better. This last little while, I could have been doing better.
Being the mom of two amazing humans, one of whom is a young woman who lives with multiple disabilities, has likely been the most rewarding part of my life. It’s also likely been the most challenging. Since I was a little kid, words have always been my thing. So, as a parent, when faced with an obstacle or hurdle, or a difficult situation, I have always found my way with words.
This morning, as I sat in quiet contemplation, I wondered━how could I have so unconsciously lowered my high standard for my own effective communication. And then, I remembered the “four agreements.”
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, written by Don Miguel Ruiz, has long been a guide for me━for how I want to show up in the world. The first Agreement came rushing back to me, this morning: Be impeccable with your word.
Of the four agreements, I would say that, for me, the first is the most important. I acknowledge that the use of words is only a very small part of effective communication━after all, don’t they say that about 90% of what we commuicate is done through body language? And, I know that we all communicate in our own, unique way. And, we each communicate differently, depending on the situation. But words, whether written or spoken are important. They hold power. They are my superpower. They can do good━or bad. They can build up━or tear down. Words communicate my promises━my word.
Recently, I have not been living up to my high standard of effective communication. I have not been impeccable with my word.
Mostly, when it comes to communication about our daughter, I am exceedingly intentional in my use of words. I want to use them to do good━I want to be impeccable with my words. After all, “impeccable” means something like “without sin.” Yes, I want to use words, without sinning. I want to take responsibility for what I say. I want to avoid judging myself or others, while also speaking with integrity. When I write, I am especially careful in choosing my words. I confess that while speaking, I often fail to think things through as carefully. It’s a journey.
And, I want to take responsibility for what I promise to do, too. I am intentional. I consider my promises, carefully. I commit to what I believe I can and will do, and then I work hard to over deliver. I don’t always. Again, it’s a journey.
So, to our daughter’s detriment, I realize that, over the past several months, my words have not been entirely clear━nor, perhaps, have I lived into my intention to work diligently as an effective communicator, on our daughter’s behalf. I have not made my (very high) expectations clear. I have not followed through on my intention to collaborate. I have not been impeccable with my word. Nor with my words. No self judgment. Just a growing awareness of the situation at hand.
My lack of clarity in my communication means that I and others have been operating from a very different understanding. And, the result is that, not only have I and others been negatively impacted, but also our daughter, who has been trusting all along that, somehow, we will get this thing called “effective communication” right.
So, what have I learned━because, of course, every “failure” presents an opportunity to learn. I’ve learned that I need to be more impeccable with my word. For me, this means being more intentional with how I use my words, and having more integrity with following through on what I promise to do.
And, while I take the lesson and hopefully improve on how I show up in the world, I’ll give myself a wee bit of grace. I’ll work on doing better, while not judging myself or others. And, I’ll pay close attention to speaking with clarity and integrity, so that I can be sure that our daughter’s trust is not eroded or misplaced.
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