“How to Communicate Like a Buddhist
BY CYNTHIA KANE
I used to lie awake at night and worry about work, family, friends, boyfriends. Honestly, I would obsess about all of it. And while all these thoughts and emotions were going on inside I rarely expressed any of them. Instead, a colleague would knock on my cubicle while I was in the middle of something and I’d roll my eyes and say in a passive aggressive tone, “what can I do for you now.” Or my boyfriend would ask me to empty the water out of the tea kettle and I’d argue about why leaving it there made sense. Sometimes someone even asking me a simple question like what do you want for lunch would be difficult to answer. There was so much clutter in my head that I couldn’t focus or slow down to express myself accurately. Everything irked me and had me reacting impulsively damaging my relationships. Of course I wanted to interact differently I just didn’t know how.
So I went out and learned everything I could about how to communicate to express myself in a clear, direct, and accurate way. And after years of reading, going to lectures / seminars, and retreats I came up with a practice grounded in the elements of right speech in Buddhism that takes away the clutter, cultivates kind and calm conversations, and helps shift us out of the internal chatter and into the present moment.
To speak consciously, clearly, and concisely without anxiety
To respond instead of react
To speak in a way that’s kind, honest, and helpful
To know when to speak and when to stay quiet
To stay engaged when listening
To express yourself so that others can hear you
To nip potential problems in the bud before they become meltdowns
To be comfortable in silence – no longer needing to fill the space”
…and from the Dalai Lama: