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Say What You Mean

A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication

By Oren Jay Sofer
  • Read in 19 minutes
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  • Contains 12 key ideas
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Say What You Mean by Oren Jay Sofer

Say What You Mean (2018) is a guide to meaningful and productive communication. It shows how you can leave old, unhelpful habits behind and develop the skills to speak your mind in a clear and authentic way. It also teaches some simple practices to make your conversations more effective and satisfying.

Key idea 1 of 12

In successful communication, we create understanding through awareness.

Have you had the experience of talking to someone who just doesn’t seem to hear you? Have you found yourself telling a story to a friend whose attention is focused on his phone, or tried having a conversation with a partner whose eyes are glued to the TV? If so, you’ll know that this can be incredibly frustrating, because although you’re both speaking the same language, there simply isn’t any awareness of you or your words – it’s like you’re not even there. 

Ultimately it means that, in such moments, communication can’t and isn’t happening.  

The key message here is: In successful communication, we create understanding through awareness.

It might seem obvious, but we rarely stop to think about why we’re communicating at all. The answer? It comes down to one simple word: understanding. Understanding is the purpose of all communication.

In order for understanding to be the ultimate outcome in our communication, however, we need awareness. But what does awareness mean when it comes to communication?

Well, the one thing it requires is presence. More than just a state of mind, presence means physically being aware of, and sensing, all aspects of yourself through your body. It’s being in tune with your mental states and your emotional experiences – just as they express themselves in your body.

Having presence for a moment or two is easy enough for most of us – it’s as simple as turning your attention inward and becoming aware of what you’re feeling and experiencing at that moment.

What’s more challenging, though, is keeping that awareness going, especially when you’re in the middle of a conversation.

There are good reasons for that: For one thing, it takes time and effort to let go of our old communication patterns, which might include things like yelling when we don’t feel heard or giving someone the silent treatment. Even when we know these counterproductive methods are ineffective, it can still be quite hard to replace them with something more life-enhancing.

The good news is that presence can be learned – it’s just a question of practice and learning a few basic principles.

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