These writings are inspired by the incredible power of communication and the central role it plays in all things good and all things not so good.

For all of its power and importance in our lives, effective communication seems to elude most people most of the time. By effective communication I mean communication that leaves the communicating parties moved, touched and inspired. I do not mean clear communication. Clear communication is easily and often accomplished by most everyone however clear communication is only effective IF the listener is able to “get” the real intention of the message rather than reacting to the way in which it is communicated.

The collection of writings on the following pages come from a diverse group of wise individuals who I have come to know and respect for their talents and their dedication to humanity. I invited each to share their wisdom and experience in the area of communication so as to inspire readers to consider new possibilities to enrich their lives and the lives of people around them.

Read these contributions not as end-games but rather as invitations to explore further ways that you can dramatically and fundamentally transform your communication ability. Let this be a starting point in your exploration. Please share your journey and your learnings with us here. The sky is the limit!

Several individuals have generously contributed to this work and they should be acknowledged: Howard Hurwitz for his clever suggestions and leadership skills as the project co-leader, Gabrielle Lasporte for her fabulous design work, Warren Morris for his editing suggestions, The Printing House for facilitating the printing of this book, Dr. Carey Stevens and Caroline Davidson for their insightful inspiration, and last but not least, all of our contributors who donated their time for your learning and transformation.

Love and light,
Nathalie Boutet

Communication and the Law of Attraction

by David Folk
Have you ever wondered why some people seem so at ease and others not at all? Have you noticed that people at ease tend to get more of what they seek, whether in communication or in general? Or that people at ease who have the wrong answer get support from others while people not at ease who have the right answer do not?

Hint: it’s not about “charisma”.

There are many complex forces that come to bear on human communication. At the root of everything is the basic nature of humans: the fight/flight instinct. Left to our primal devices, we humans default to this instinct every time. It may be subtle, such as being in a conversation where you try to get what you want from the other person (ie. “fight”) or give the other person what they want (ie. “flight”). Or it may be overt where verbal or physical assertions are made by one or both parties either fighting or fleeing.

There is little ground for effective communication in this type of interaction and NO basis for attraction. Attraction is critical in intimate settings, such as families (especially parenting), couples/spouses and management positions, where ongoing trust and inspiration are necessary.

There are many forms of attraction but there is one form that has the power to influence successful communication beyond all the others: “essence”.

Essence is the word I use to describe the complex energy pattern that all life forms generate. When the energy is some combination of positive, inviting, confident, safe, curious, appropriate, kind, strong, centered and thoughtful, the stage is set for attraction to be present and effective communication to result.

When the energy is some combination of negative, offensive, frightened, judging, critical, single minded, inconsiderate and inappropriate, the stage is set for what we have all become far to willing to accept: poor communication, bad feelings and unfulfilled goals and expectations.

The work required for a person to become some combination of positive, inviting, confident, safe, curious, appropriate, kind, strong, centered, and thoughtful, . all on a consistent and ongoing basis, is substantial. In the Western world we receive virtually no training in how to create and maintain this state of being. Rather, we receive extensive “training” in dysfunctional communication and dysfunctional relationship building literally from the time we can cry out to our parents. For those who undertake the mission to establish a consistent state of positive energy/essence, there is a true pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

It figures, right? By way of comparison, only a small fraction of humans excel at pursuits that require a high degree of skill (sport, art, science etc) without extensive practice and training. Only a few more excel with extensive training. The rest of us just bump along and hope (and hope and hope).

How much training and practice have you had in creating a positive essence and therefore being an effective communicator?

Here are a few practical ways to advance your state of being and communication abilities:

  1. Figure out what you need vs. what you want. Start with your life and then focus down on specific areas where you wish to have more effective communication;
  2. Figure out what effective communication means to you;
  3. Invest in training yourself and the people around you;
  4. Practice, practice, practice.

The diagram below describes a simple framework for figuring out and keeping track of what you need vs. what you want.
Start by applying this framework to your life. Take time to refine it over a series of days or weeks until you only have things in your must have column that you really truly believe you must have. There are no rights or wrongs here. If you really in your heart believe you must have something, then for the purpose of this exercise you must have it. Notice, however, the way in which things creep onto the must have list that you don’t really need! If you are like me, your list will grow and shrink and grow for days as you ponder how your wants compare to your needs. Once complete, keep your work as an ongoing reference point for your energy and essence, and notice how your mind negotiates with you to get more things on the must have list that you really don’t need.

Can you see how being clear on your needs versus wants can contribute to a state of positive energy and effective communication?

The next step is to figure out what effective communication means to you. Consider the possibility that it means the person you are communicating with is left touched, moved and inspired. This is a very powerful concept.

Next, employ the framework and your new clarity on what effective communication is, to an interaction with someone in which you are not satisfied with your state of being and the quality of communicating, such as a spouse, mate, child, or relative. Invite them to perform a similar exercise for themselves, starting with their life and then focusing on the issue or issues at hand.

The simple fact that you are willing to share this with each other provides a starting point for positive energy and effective communication, even when your desires and views are not aligned.

Lastly, in terms of training, my experience is that you have to develop a regimen of training and practice that you adopt for the rest of your life. Training and practice are hands-on activities. The best place that I know of to get trained and to practice is at Landmark Education, a global training organization whose primary purpose is to help people transform themselves into, among many things, effective communicators capable of making things happen in the world around them. Landmark offers a series of programs in a series they call the Curriculum For Living for people aged 8-12, 13-18, and 19-up. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only organization of its kind. The good news is that it is affordable and accessible.

Love and light for a lifetime of inspiration and effective communication!

David Folk

The Power of Listening

by Hilary Bowring

Offer your true self to the communication by listening.
Communication is lost when there is no sharing; often both parties want to convince the other of their position and focus only on communicating their own perspective. When we listen we open to forming a relationship of understanding. We have to drop our old patterns with this person for the situation to expand for mutual good.

Make a conscious choice to be your real self when you are with another. Before you meet, ground yourself, and breathe deeply from your naval., Then, at the meeting, be more prepared to listen than to speak. Be fully present, focus on your heart and send love and compassion silently. This changes the energy and dissolves negativity.

Allow the other person time to speak, and even if what is said disrupts you, keep on breathing and remaining silent. (Occasionally, the other person may rant. Don’t engage, as there is no logical exchange possible. Just sit in silence.)

If something is said that stirs your negative emotions, keep breathing and listening. This allows you time to respond as opposed to react. Frequently, the wave of emotion takes a while to diminish. Wait for this intensity to pass before you meet and communicate again.

Sometimes an immediate response may not be possible, and you can say “I need time to think about what you’ve said” or “I don’t know what to say just now”. Give yourself more space to contemplate….

Always remember, this is someone you love or have loved. Consider that we are all part of the same One, and these people, the most intimate in our lives, are part of our soul journey for expanding our understanding of life. We are strengthened by unpleasant situations; the secret is being able to see the gift hidden in any adversity. Contemplate what this difficult circumstance is teaching you about yourself. No blame. Look for the insight and growth this is giving your character. Look within, not outside. Why are you reacting to this? Usually it is our ego acting, not our true self.

Many blessings for open loving communications in all your relationships.

Hilary Bowring
Teacher of Consciousness
Meditation-Spiritual Counselling- Energy Clearing- Past life Insights
Spiritual Counselling is based on Eastern Philosophy. Illuminate the "karmic themes” underlying life issues and how our close relationships & challenges are our greatest teachers. We’ve known each other before in many lifetimes; agreed to play roles supporting our mutual evolution. The counseling opens your heart to actively give compassion and love, and to using your wisdom and intuition. When we honour and support others, grace supports our efforts.
Divine Align Align with the Divine in You.

Active Listening

by Dr. Raymond Morris
The most valuable first skill necessary for healthy interpersonal communication is the ability to listen to and actually hear what the other person has to say. You may be surprised to find out how difficult active listening is.

The two most important aspects of communication or things to listen for are:
  1. The content or words utilized and which convey the meaning of what is being said, and
  2. The feelings expressed in association with the meaning.
It is important to try and pick up both the meaning and the feeling of what is being said.

There are some rules that will enable you to listen better.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t become defensive.
  • Don’t respond in anger or in any aggressive way. (Remember your task is to try and understand in the deepest way possible what the other person is trying to tell you)
  • Try to limit your questions. You will find that if you wait long enough, most of your questions will eventually be answered by the speaker.
  • Try not to talk people out of their feelings.

  • Sit forward. Look like you are interested in what is being said via your body position or posture.
  • Make eye contact but do not stare.
  • Wait till the other person finishes and try to mirror or feedback the meaning of what has been said and the feeling associated with the meaning. The speaker’s next statement will tell you whether or not if you have heard accurately.
  • Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it right the first time.
  • Try to leave your own preconceived thoughts and theories out of your listening and response.
When you follow these rules, you will be able to convey to the other person that you have listened and understand them. This will very likely facilitate further exploration and discussion by the other person. Ultimately you will both get to a point of understanding what the point of discussion is. Remember you might not like what you hear. You may personally disagree with it, but it only makes sense to really know and understand what the other person is saying and feeling before you attempt to resolve conflict, that is differences of opinion, or attempt to give advice.

1) Describe one Idea or Action that helps communication (use as much space as you need):

The first basic and primary communication skill involves active listening. Listening is a receptive skill that requires complete physical and mental openness in order to truly understand in the deepest way, what the other person is meaning and feeling. However, in order to know if you are hearing accurately and facilitate dialogue, you must let the other person know what you have heard and understand. So the second part of active listening involves feeding back what you have heard. There are do’s and don’ts that facilitate active listening. This skill is necessary in order to get to a point of mutual understanding after which continued dialogue may lead to a resolution of a problem. Sometimes just active listening is enough to satisfy a speakers needs.

2) For the Index of the Guide, what is a descriptive name for your Idea or Action (4 to 8 words to describe your Action):

Active Listening
3) Your name as you want to be referred to in the Guide, and 3 to 5 lines about your biography:

Dr. Raymond Morris, Registered Psychologist
Dr. Morris received his doctorate from the University of Toronto in 1973, worked at the Family Court Clinic of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry until 1986 when he entered full time private practice. His expertise is in the area of family break down and provides pre, post marital counseling, individual psychotherapy, custody and access assessments, mediation and family arbitration. He has taught at York University for 13 years and provided courses on communication, helping and interview skills to many organizations and professional groups.

Listening with Talking Stick

by Laurie Weinberg
Listening is the highest form of love. When we feel heard and seen by our partner, we feel loved. Many of us were not truly listened to by our parents. We did not feel heard and seen on a deep level. As a result, when we get into an intimate relationship as an adult, the issues of not really feeling heard or seen can rise to the surface again. We can build walls of anger and resentment towards our partner, which only serves to further isolate us and leave us feeling unloved. The issue of listening gets further compounded when there is a “hot” topic in the relationship. Most couples have several topics that if not properly discussed, can leave more walls and more distance between the partners.

A very simple and effective tool to start to build more listening into a relationship is as follows:

Both partners set aside some quiet time when they will not be disturbed by children, the phone or any outside distractions. It is good if both partners write this into their calendars like any other appointment. It is wonderful to start the talk with some deep breathing, or by lighting a candle.........something to help both people get into a state of relative calm.

Place an object in the middle of the partners that can be used as a “talking stick”. This could be a rock, a stick or any object from nature. One of the partners takes the stick. The person holding the stick begins to talk, taking care to own their feelings rather than speaking in an accusatory manner. For example, the speaker would say “I feel hurt whenever I notice you looking at the ceiling when I talk. It makes me feel like you are not really present” as opposed to “you’re not listening. You are a terrible listener. See how you are looking away from me?”..............when the feelings are “owned” the listener is better able to stay present to what is being said without getting into a defensive posture.

The listener does nothing but attentively listen without any interruption until the speaker is complete with what they need to share. This is much more difficult than it sounds. The listener is called upon to act from their most evolved self. That is, the urge to shout, yell or make snippy or cynical remarks of any kind must be resisted. The listener must endeavour to stay neutral. They may get triggered by what the speaker is saying, yet must be able to hold their response until it is their turn to speak.

This goes back and forth until both parties feel heard. There may not be resolution to the “hot” topic. However, resolution is not the point. The point of the exercise is to create more space in the relationship for being heard.

Laurie Weinberg is a spiritual psychotherapist and hypnotherapist with a private practice in Toronto, ON. She truly values and honours the emotional experiences of her clients. She assists them in bringing the layers of the unconscious into the conscious realm so that true healing can begin. Laurie works with individuals, couples and groups.

Laurie Weinberg
Spiritual Psychotherapist / Hypnotherapist

Managing Your Anger

by Howard Hurwitz, MSW, RSW
Often when we communicate around delicate personal issues, they evoke strong emotional reactions. How we handle these situations impacts on how effective we are able to communicate with the other person. Managing our anger becomes challenging, particularly when we are passionate about our beliefs and points of view. It should also be said that anger, by itself, is not necessarily a negative state- it is how we handle that anger that becomes a determining factor in how effective we communicate. Sometimes, anger can be a constructive way of promoting communication.

It is essential to be self aware about the emotional reaction you’re having when engaged in communication with another person. For example, is the discussion causing you to become angry? It is helpful to ask yourself a series of questions:
  • Why am I angry?
  • What’s triggering this reaction?
Often, people react with anger to what the other person is saying or ‘how’ they are saying it. To this end we may interpret or ascribe negative meaning to the words being used by the other person. For example, we may read into their comments that they are ‘talking down’ to us or being disrespectful. It is important for a person who feels disrespected to clarify their feelings since sometimes the other person unintentionally communicated the information in a way that they have no idea was being interpreted in a negative way. Sorting out any misunderstandings is a constructive way to ensure that there is clear communication. Sometimes, people become angry while communicating and this could be related to their own issues pertaining to their past. Asking one’s self, the above questions, may provide insight in relation to understanding whether their anger is self generated or in reaction to something done by the other person.

Along with anger, people often experience anxiety. They may experience physical signs where their breathing becomes heavy, pulse rate increases, skin flushes, etc. It’s often useful when this occurs to use techniques aimed at calming oneself down. One such technique is called ‘self talk’. It is based on the notion of giving oneself positive messages aimed at reducing the anxiety.

Communicating is about being clear and effective in getting your message across to the other person. It is important that in any dialogue you are clear about what you want to get out of the discussion. Many communication experts stress the importance of focusing on what you want….what you need…… you feel.

Managing anger by being self aware is one essential way to ensure that your communication is constructive and clear.

Howard Hurwitz is a social worker and has an MSW and over 29 years experience in various child welfare and children’s mental health agencies. Howard's special interest is working with individuals and couples who are deemed to be in high conflict. He is the founder of the High Conflict Forum, a committee made up of professionals working with High Conflict Families.
Howard Hurwitz

Getting to the Underlying Emotions Behind the Stated Problem

by Dr. Nina Mistry
Most of us, including couples, tend to talk about problems that they may have with each other. For example, someone may complain that his/her partner is too busy and spends too much time away from the family. Someone else may have a problem with his/her partner’s spending habits. There are as many different problems as there are people. Each problem can look uniquely different from another. Couples can argue about these problems endlessly. Eventually, they may feel stuck because both partners will believe that they are right and the other is wrong. The goal of effective communication is for people to stop talking about the problem and talk about how they are feeling about the problem and to listen to how his/her partner is feeling in turn.

For example, Sam suspected that his wife was having an affair. He thought about confronting his wife about his suspicions. He wanted to tell her that he would leave her if she did not end the affair. By talking about the problem angrily and giving her ultimatums, his wife would also likely be angry and would likely refuse to talk any further. A more practical approach for Sam was to remain calm while talking with his wife. Breathing deeply helped him to be calm. He used “I” statements to let his wife know how he was feeling. Sam told his wife, “I love you and want the marriage to work. I’m feeling insecure and worried each time you go out and don’t let me know where you are going.” He went on to tell her that he was having difficulty trusting her. Sam remained calm, and non-defensive. When his wife responded angrily that she did not want to have to tell him where she was going each time, Sam validated her feelings by letting her know he could understand that she was feeling controlled by him and resentful. Repeating how his wife was feeling back to her helped her feel more understood and less angry. Sam went on to say that what he really needed was for his wife to understand his feelings of insecurity, fear and hurt. With the discussion having moved away from the issue of the affair, both Sam and his wife were able to connect by expressing and validating each other’s feelings.

It is generally difficult for most of us to express our feelings of sadness, fear, betrayal, hurt, etc., because doing so makes each of us vulnerable. Moving beyond the problem and expressing our feelings helps to establish greater understanding and closeness.

Sam was subsequently able to reflect back with his wife about how much he appreciated that she had really listened to how he was feeling. He told her that he felt understood. His wife told Sam that she was relieved that he had not blamed her. Providing positive feedback about what each person did to facilitate the conversation was also helpful.

Dr. Nina Mistry
Dr. Nina Mistry received her Ph.D. from the University of Leicester, England, in 1983. She was previously a Staff Psychologist at Etobicoke General Hospital and at Scarborough Grace Hospital. Miller-Mistry Psychologists have been providing psychological services for almost 20 years.
Dr. Mistry specializes in the treatment of anxiety and depression. She also provides treatment to couples and families.

The Benefits and Risks of Assumptions in Communication

by Dr. Helen Radovanovic
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” -- Anthony Robins
Assumptions necessarily have a strong role in the evolution of human language and communication. Assumptions, or automatically attributing a particular cultural or personal meaning to a word or phrase or message helps us process information more efficiently. It also ensures a communal understanding for specific words and phrases.

Assumptions in our personal communication with familiar others is guided by past experience of the other and past experience in communications with them. This can serve a positive function in that we often anticipate the other’s reactions or share information more efficiently. In intimate relationships, when we assume how the other will feel, this allows us to shape our own response in a manner that is most constructive and sensitive.

Our own individual experiences, vulnerabilities and strengths, of course, also shape our assumptions. Under very emotional and/or stressful circumstances, however, assumptions can be maladaptive. When marriages are stressed, or in conflicted divorce situations, an individual’s assumptions about the intent or the meaning of the other’s communication can contribute to an escalation in conflict. Even when the relationship is neutral or positive, our own vulnerabilities and stress may lead to inaccurate assumptions and communication difficulties. In highly emotional circumstances, when individuals misinterpret the feelings behind or motivation or exact meaning of the communication and react based on that misinterpretation, arguments often ensue. When marriages or other intimate relationships have had a history of stress or problems, emotions run high and assumptions are often quickly and arbitrarily formed.

Hence, most communication experts and counselors give the following similar advice:
  1. Be patient when listening to someone and let them finish their thought/message.
  2. It is important to ask questions when you are feeling upset/stressed or when you are not absolutely sure what the other person intended or meant in their communication. Asking open-ended questions like “I’m not sure what you mean by that. Could you please explain?” is important to guard against negative or inaccurate assumptions. “I” statements such as “I heard you say…” or, “Is that what you meant?” are important tools in clarifying the interpretation and actual meaning of the communication.
  3. When emotions run high and the relationship has had a “rocky” history, it is important to focus on the present and “stay in the moment.” Do not allow past experience to guide your reactions.
  4. Express yourself clearly and try not to use vague or emotionally-charged language that can be misinterpreted.
  5. Separating your feelings from your understanding of the communication or situation is often helpful; this needs to be explained to the other person. “I feel angry about what you have said, but I do see your point…”
Human needs and relationships are complex. Although there is a need to organize incoming information in efficient ways, including what we assume about other’s motives, feelings and communications, there is an even more important need to understand one another accurately. This is important in every relationship, but especially important in the relationships which we value the most. It is also critical in our increasingly fast-paced, “short-form” and technological world.
“Communication works for those who work at it.”-- John Powell
Dr. Helen Radovanovic, Registered Psychologist
Dr. Radovanovic is a clinical psychologist in private practice with a special interest and specialized experience in assisting adults and children in separation/divorce situations. Her past professional experience has included working at the Family Court Clinic, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry/Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and as an assistant professor in Psychiatry for the University of Toronto. Dr. Radovanovic has published peer-reviewed articles and lectured extensively in the area of parental conflict and the impact on children.

The Purpose of Communication with Intimate Partners

by Risa Ennis
Although we believe that communication with intimate partners is the vehicle to share our feelings, opinions and acquire what we need and want, there is another profound purpose that is largely misunderstood or ignored. This profound purpose of communicating with intimate partners is to continually understand and finetune ourselves. By doing so, we achieve great personal growth, leading us to find and practice our purpose here in the universe which leads to ultimately finding our happiness.

Our partners can help us better know ourselves, and correct /strengthen weaknesses. In so doing, we can achieve true intimacy and joy, within ourselves and with them, if we allow them, by allowing ourselves to hear their feedback and then practice honest self-reflection.
Typically we look outward at others, leading to reactive, critical or judgmental behaviors instead of first focusing on ourselves. This robs both partners of the personal, relationship and other goals they so desperately wish to achieve.

Partners with higher levels of self-esteem can better welcome the opportunity to hear feedback from their intimate partners than those with lower self-esteem.

Honest self-reflection will be achieved in direct correlation with how healthy our egos are. The healthier the ego, the more honest we will be about all parts of our souls, minds and bodies. A healthy ego admits and embraces the totality of who we are. An unhealthy ego is shame/fear based leaving one to whitewash realities too painful to admit. An unhealthy ego must present a “persona” (a false self) to protect against disapproval or have imperfections exposed.

True intimate communication is transparent, as we must be with each other, to achieve our self-actualization purpose of communication. But this begins within oneself first.
Therefore, the core purpose of communication - that is fine-tuning our best selves through intimate partners - requires a firm sense of self-esteem. This means that our strengths are not as profound as our abilities to acknowledge, understand and accept our flaws, unresolved issues including trauma/crises we have endured, and how these have all left indelible marks on us, intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. By incorporating both our strengths and challenges, we can learn to wholly accept ourselves.

Most frequently, when communication breaks down, it is symptomatic of one or both partners, not taking full responsibility for self-reflection, stemming from low self-esteem.
Where there is low self-esteem with one partner, it is highly typical for this partner to project these imperfections onto the other partner through passive-aggression, aggression, withdrawal, avoidance, defensiveness, criticism, blame, shame or other character attacks. This projection repeated constantly in the relationship, leaves both partners assuming the communication is hopelessly flawed, leading to disconnection.

Where one partner has heightened self-esteem, that partner may be a wise guide to steer the other partner back to self-reflection. If this is achieved, through tenacity, maturity and clear language, higher intimacy and great satisfaction in the relationship is the result.

The challenge where one partner has heightened self-esteem, is to continually work towards an equitable relationship balance, intellectually, physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Partners need to act in equitably reciprocal ways to enhance each other’s self-actualization. Self-actualization in turn enables the partners to cope with the multitude of challenges and stresses inside and outside of the relationship.

In summary, communication successes with intimate partners must begin with appropriate levels of self-esteem from both partners. Thus accountability and self-reflection - by-products of self-esteem - can assist both partners to achieve self-actualization. This will then accomplish the yearning intimate partners have for deep and joyful intimacy.

The best action in successful communication with our intimate partners is to continually ask oneself, “What am I trying to work through within myself when our communication is struggling?”

Risa Ennis is in private practice in Toronto and Newmarket as a Parent Educator, Accredited Family Mediator, Pastoral Counsellor, Parent Coordinator and Family Professional in the Collaborative Law Model. Risa also provides co-mediation with several family law lawyers to assist clients in preparation of comprehensive separation agreements.

The Elegant Email: Ten Tips To Help You Communicate More Effectively

by Deborah Mecklinger
Is the Elegant Email a paradox or a realistic goal? Is every email we send an opportunity to forget who we are or is it another way of showing people who we are? If the “sent email” is representative of who we truly are, then it is time to think about the message we want our emails to communicate before we hit SEND!

Elegant is defined as, “gracefully refined and dignified, as in tastes, habits or literary style; excellent, fine or superior; simplicity in execution, simple and precise.” The Elegant Email is well designed, intentional and strategic. The goal of the Elegant Email is to communicate information clearly, without intricacy and uncompounded by emotion that may likely be misconstrued.
In the frenetic world we live in, with virtual mailboxes overloaded, blackberries buzzing and little time for thinking before speaking, even fewer are thinking before sending. While we all know that we should, include a “subject” that is relevant in the heading, omit slang, capital letters, bold and exclamation marks to emphasize or yell. Use spell check, double check who we are replying to, and eliminate the use of BCC to bully. There are many things we fail to consider before we hit send and end up in cyber chaos. Here are some guidelines to help you put your best email forward and show the world that you are elegant, even when you land in their inbox.
  1. Define the goal of your message before writing your email. Does your email achieve that goal? Edit extraneous information that does not serve the goal of the email.
  2. Be aware of tone and err on the side on neutral. Sarcasm, irony and humor can be easily misconstrued. The use of point form supports a neutral approach and is particularly useful with emails of confrontational or challenging nature.
  3. Tease the email through an “emotion filter.” Does the email sound like it comes from the head or the heart? Ask yourself if this email is written from the place it is coming from, and if it is coming from the place it was written.
  4. If your email is filled with emotion, is it appropriate in the circumstances? Filter your response through # 1 and ensure that you are serving your identified goal.
  5. Is email the appropriate modality of communication? Do not forget that telephone calls and face-to-face meetings are still in style and may be more suitable in many situations.
  6. Consider the pros and cons of writing an email versus having a conversation. Ask yourself if you are forgoing elegance for efficiency and evaluate the costs and benefits of your chosen form of communication.
  7. Read the email before sending and if needed, sleep on it. If the email was written from a place of anger, frustration, or any other heightened sense of emotion, save it as a “Draft” and revisit. The distance will help ensure your email is appropriate.
  8. Imagine you are the receiver of the email and reread the email from that perspective. Remember that you will not be at the receiver’s side to explain and interpret the email.
  9. Ask yourself the following question: “Is this email acceptable for the world to see?” Remind yourself that the world may see your email so, “Smile, you’re on candid camera!” Your audience may include your boss, board of directors, spouse, ex-spouse, lawyer, judge, friends and family.
  10. Ask yourself the following question: Does this email represent my best attempt at communicating clearly, elegantly and respectfully? If the answer is No, go back to Step One and rewrite. If the answer is yes, proudly press send.
Embrace your ability to email elegantly and practice a conscious form of communication in the cyber world. You may find your Drafts outnumber your Sent Messages, your phone may become your new best friend or you may go for rapport over the Reply. Either way, your elegant emails will be a model for those receiving your messages to respond in kind. With the touch of a button you will have changed the world.

Deborah Mecklinger is a Professional Coach as well as a Lawyer and Master of Social Work. She is well known for her work as a Coach, Mediator and Therapist with individuals, couples and families. Deborah’s expertise ranges from divorce to the corporate world as she helps others communicate, resolve conflict and set goals so they can live more intentional, productive and fulfilling lives. Deborah’s multi-disciplined experience coupled with her passion and commitment fuels her desire to coach others to walk their talk.
Deborah L. Mecklinger LL.B., M.S.W, A.T.C
Walk The Talk Coaching

Further Readings

by Dr. Marie France Lafontaine
  1. A Five-step Guide for Building Better Connections With Family, Friends, And Lovers by Gottman, John & DeClaire, Joan (2001). New York: Three Rivers Press. Dr. John Gottman presents a revolutionary five-step program for repairing troubled relationships - with spouses and lovers, children and other family members, friends, and even your boss or colleagues at work.
  2. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by Gottman, John & Silver, Nan (1999). New York: Three Rivers Press. The authors present the Seven Principles that guide couples on the path toward a harmonious and long-lasting relationship. Packed with practical questionnaires and exercises, this book is the definitive guide for anyone who wants their relationship to attain its highest potential.
  3. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Johnson, Sue (2008). New York: Little, Brown and Company. This book offers a revolutionary new way to see and shape love relationships. The stories, new ideas and exercises offered in Hold Me Tight are based on the new science of love and the wisdom of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Dr. Sue Johnson shows the reader how to create a safe emotional bond that can last a lifetime.
Dr. Marie-France Lafontaine, C. Psych., is a psychologist, a professor and researcher in clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa, and Director of Couple Research Lab. mlafonta[AT]