To complement “The Anatomy of Communication: Congruence, Care and Connection” in the May 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: By confining our communication primarily to words—as we do when we spend so much time on computers and mobile devices—we deprive ourselves of the most important elements of effective communication: tone of voice and body language. Asking clients questions and truly listening to their answers can increase the level at which you connect with them, and contribute to improved session outcomes.
Communication is the process by which we exchange thoughts and ideas through our words, tone of voice and body language. It sounds simple enough; so why do we sometimes have so much trouble truly connecting?
We live in a technological age, and as a result we are rapidly losing the art of face-to-face conversation. Texting, emailing and browsing social media through our cellphones, tablets and computers are today’s primary ways of communicating. The main aspect of communication many of us use is words—not spoken, but typed, mostly abbreviated, or we use letters representing phrases. We have created a new language that does not involve physical interaction.
Communicating without physical interaction is very limiting. Did you know that communication comprises tone of voice and body language as well as words? If we are not using our voice or body language, that whole aspect of communication is lost. We are alone with our devices, heads down, eyes fixated, completely unaware of our surroundings. As connected as we might feel, we are actually isolated.
Are you addicted?
You don’t realize how critical your mobile device has become until your battery goes dead or you forget your phone—then all of a sudden you realize you can’t live without it. I’ve personally experienced this: On the first day of a week-long shamanic vision quest I took recently, I was asked to give up my connection to the outside world.
I was agreeable to spending three days on top of a mountain in a 30-foot circle with no food and only three gallons of water. I’d be alone in the forest with bears, mountain lions, skunks and other wild animals, with no protection. Yet, when the organizers asked for my cellphone, I broke out in a cold sweat. This was my true connection to the outside world. I felt naked and vulnerable without a cellphone. The only person I had to communicate with was myself, for three whole days and three whole nights.
I definitely had a life-changing experience.
Ready to communicate?
As a coach and massage therapist, I often hear my clients complain that they feel unheard, misunderstood and disrespected. I can understand why. We are slowly losing our ability to clearly communicate with our whole being. When your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment, your ability to communicate effectively increases, and as a result your ability to be heard, understood and respected rises.
As an effective communicator, you can build healthier relationships, help diffuse conflicts, excel in your career, and learn to balance your work and home life. It’s time to wake up and start reconnecting.
How to make a connection
The key to deep connection lies in four words: Ask questions, then listen.
In order to connect with another human being, ask questions and then listen to the answers. People inherently love to talk about themselves. If you ask the right questions, they will share information with you, and not just with words, but with their tone of voice and body language. If you can be genuinely curious in your conversations by asking questions and listening to the answers, you will discover that people appreciate sharing.
Incorporate this one practice into your massage business and you can potentially increase your clientele and have very happy, satisfied clients who feel you truly care about their well-being. During your intake process and at appropriate times during or after a session, you can ask questions such as:
- “What is your specific concern today?”
- “What do you want from your session today?”
- “What areas do you want to address today, and why?”
- “How will you know when we have achieved this goal?”
- “What changes do you notice since your last session?”
Sharing develops trust, and with trust you open up an invitation to connect at a deeper, authentic level. Magical things happen when you put your head up, gaze into the eyes of another human being and authentically ask the first question.
Donna Schmid (donnaschmid.com) is a speaker and coach, founder of the Wise Woman Community. She is a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved educator for her course, The Anatomy and Physiology of Communication for Massage Therapists. She wrote “The Anatomy of Communication: Congruence, Care and Connection” for MASSAGE Magazine’s May 2015 print issue.