Every expert in psychology and social health services will very likely tell you about the benefits of open, honest communication. Do more of it, they will tell you. Be open and tell everyone about the things that you think they should know. It is a lovely idea but what if it is all wrong, completely and utterly wrong?

Here’s the catch, if you are communicating from the heart, you are safe to communicate openly and honestly because you will be giving out the correct messages. They will not always be positive messages but they will be well intentioned and put across in the correct way. However, if you are communicating from the mind. Well, oops. Here is where things can go wrong for you and your best communication intentions.

To explain, let us look at a typical heart/mind battle to communicate, your heart will have a message that you feel needs to be said. You might feel like telling someone that you care about them, are worried about their health, or that you are there to support them. It might be something else such as needing personal space or that a relationship is no longer working. The list of options here is as diverse and elaborate as life itself. The point is that these messages are simple, straight forward, easily communicated and understood, and are from the heart.

massive-sandwichThen the mind gets involved. Consider that your heart felt message is a sandwich. Your heart tells you that the person you want to communicate with needs a ham and cheese sandwich. You prepare this sandwich in order to give it to them. You open the fridge to get out the ham and cheese and realise that you also have cucumber, tomato, pickles, butter, mayonnaise, mustard and a number of other things. This is you, letting your mind into your communication.

Your mind tells you that these things are all relevant to your ham and cheese sandwich. Your mind tells you that the person you are communicating with, if they like ham and cheese, will also like these other things. Your mind will tell you that it is important for you to include all of these things with the ham and cheese sandwich.

The next thing you know, you have just handed over a triple decker ham, cheese and salad sandwich with mayo, mustard and all the trimmings. The person you have given this to now has a stomach ache from all of the food that they didn’t need but that you have imposed upon them.

This is your mind over communicating the simple message that your heart needed to express.

This over communication is something we do all of the time if we are not paying attention to what we are communicating and the reasons for it. If you are to describe what your communication is attempting to achieve, you will hear yourself say things like, “I am trying to be helpful”, “I am showing my understanding”, “I am trying to show how much I know on the topic” or similar such things. If you are communicating for these types of reasons then you will note that all of them are all about yourself. If you are thinking about “me, me, me, me, me” when communicating with someone, you are communicating from your mind, the ego. You are not communicating what they need, you are communicating what you need.

You really need to shut up at this point.

Unless someone has specifically asked for your opinion, it is unlikely that your view on things is what they were after. If you continue to communicate in this way with someone, they will either tell you about it, in less than an ideal way, or they will start to close down the communication channels with you. This does, of course, defeat the purpose of your original good intentions to communicate with someone.

You might be wondering how you can fix it. Well, the first thing you need to do is think about what you are going to say. Is this actually useful for the other person? Have they asked you to tell them about this? What is the simplest way for you to communicate your message? The aim is to get to a point where your message is simple, straightforward, honest and meaningful. Give them the ham and cheese sandwich. If they want pickles or anything else, they will ask for it.

Once you have worked out the way to say what you need to in a way that the other person needs you to say it, “here, have a ham and cheese sandwich,” then you need to spend your time listening. Listen more, talk less. The Dalai Llama said, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you know; but when you listen, you learn something new.” Yes, you need to talk so that the person you are communicating with can learn something new from you, but your goal should be to listen and learn about them. Communicating a simple message is the start but if you don’t then listen to the other person, you will never understand what the next message should be.

When your communication is about the other person and not about you, you are communicating from the heart and not from the mind. Communicating from the heart is quiet and powerful. It is well intended and never hurts other people. If you find that you are talking too much or that people aren’t listening to you, stop and think about what you are doing. Reduce the quantity of your communications but work on improving the quality. You will be surprised how much more you can say by saying less and how much more your communication will be valued by other people for doing so.

Try it out today, stop communicating so much and improve your relationships for the better!