BEYOND WORDS AND SOUNDS: Feeling Versus Thinking

June 21st, 2012

When you focus attention on your speaking skills, two tendencies usually emerge.

  • You focus almost exclusively on words.
  • You start listening to yourself.

What’s wrong with that? After all, isn’t speaking about forming thoughts into words, using sounds? Of course you’re going to listen and focus on words.

It matters because communication is more than just words and sounds. You speak to create a shared experience. In that moment, you want others to see what you see, understand what you think, feel what you feel.

Language is primarily a left brain activity. Words tend to emphasize the narrow cognitive aspects of communication. Just saying the words disconnects you—and your listeners—from the full experience of what you’re communicating. You’re human. So much more than thoughts and words. What about the deeper, richer, personal aspects of your existence?

You must learn to speak with your whole being.

I think it starts with an ability to observe and enjoy the physical sensations of speech.

  • the sensation of being in your body
  • the sensation of breath flowing in an out
  • the sensation of sound vibrations on your skin and in your bones
  • the shape, texture and quality of consonants and vowels
  • and so on

Becoming conscious of these physical sensations, honouring the sensual aspects of speech, reopens you to the possibility of communication as an experience. In a very natural and authentic way, getting connected to your body brings you closer to your own unique personality. You start to express more of yourself.

Start paying attention to the sensations of sound. Find ways to get out of your head, and notice what’s happening in your body when you speak. Do you feel open or closed? Generous or reserved? Totally engaged or shut down?

When you speak with your whole being, speech becomes more than just saying words. It becomes human and personal, a relationship, with all the power and richness that entails.