Improve Your Communication Skills at Work With Yoga
If your workplace is intense, fast paced, or your colleagues rub you the wrong way, you may find yourself responding reactively at work. Alternatively, you may find that you hesitate to stick up for yourself in group settings or feel uncomfortable being vulnerable at the office. Yoga can help you finesse your communication skills at work to find a balance between truthfulness and kindness.
Use The Four Gates of Speech
As a guide, the Four Gates of Speech, which evolved from the third action in the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, offer a litmus test for delivering spoken words. Ask yourself the following questions before speaking:
Are Your Words True?
Beyond the factual verity of your words, they must be spoken with intention and clarity. A lie, no matter how trivial, disconnects us from higher consciousness and creates an entry point for self-doubt – if we know we are capable of lying, we lose the ability to trust ourselves and our instincts.
Are Your Words Necessary?
Consider whether your words add value to a given situation or whether it might be prudent to listen instead.
Is It the Right Time to Speak?
Take a moment to understand whether the person you are speaking to is ready to receive your words. Be patient if the timing isn’t right, your message will land most gently when it is.
Are Your Words Kind?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be kind. Ahimsa is offered as the first yama to be observed above all others and the last gate of speech as a final checkpoint before we are cleared to speak. Words without kindness are unconstructive, even when engaging in challenging conversations. If your words cannot be delivered from a place of kindness, go back inside and evaluate how you might identify words that better reflect your true nature.
Assignment: Pause and Breathe
Space, time and breath give pause to more meaningful and constructive verbal interactions. If you are prone to react quickly, you may not speak from the heart, but rather from your reptilian defenses. In fact, even when you are not reacting with emotion, you may not be conscious of what you say around others that may cause harm, distress or misperceptions.
Before you speak or reply to anyone, for one whole day or week, add a three second pause and full round of breath (inhale, hold, exhale). Let the other person finish and wait: take note of what unfolds about yourself, others and the surrounding situation in the resulting silence.
Speak Your Truth With Balance
The language you speak influences the way you think and in effect, the way you act. In yogic philosophy, two of the yamas, or codes of ethical living, provide essential guidance for speech. Satya is commonly referred to as “truthfulness” and ahimsa may be translated as “nonviolence.” However, balancing between speaking your truth and not harming others is difficult. Truth in itself is not usually objective, which is precisely why the balance of truth and nonviolence is so delicate and important in speech.
What is Satya?
Satya comprises the root word sat and the activating suffix -ya: Sat means “true, pure, virtue, unchangeable, absolute, that which is, supreme consciousness” and ya means “coming from, as a result of.” What is revealed etymologically is that satya is more than a dualistic examination of something as merely true or false. Satya is the state of being that arises when we operate from our highest consciousness. At the very least, a deeper study of the suggests bypassing the tendency to intellectualize and instead, resonate with our instinctual consciousness. For a practical example of satya, we can turn to nature.