Do you remember the old ‘telephone game’ that we played as children where you got two empty cans, put a long string through the bottom of one and connected it to the other one and then ran off in different directions to talk on the ‘phone’? If you played that game you will recall that the phone worked only as long as the string between the two cans was taut. If it went limp you couldn’t hear the other person speaking into the can. I use this analogy with clients when coaching them on in-hand contact with horses. When walking with a horse in-hand the lead line like the string, needs to be consistently taut so that you and the horse can develop a deep bond of connection and a moment-to-moment awareness of each other. There should be no pulling and no slack; the connection should be constant and reassuring for both. Practicing contact and consistent communication with horses is a powerful way to develop physical, mental, and emotional self-awareness in relationship. How we are with horses is how we are in relationship with other people.
How are you at communicating? How are you in relationship to yourself, others, and the universe? How are you at engendering trust and consistent connection? From an Emotional Intelligence perspective, contact is about interpersonal relationships and empathy. It is also about self-awareness and emotional self-management and how adept we are at co-creating relationships and communicating with clarity.
I am excited about a new coaching modality that I am studying. It is called Conversational Intelligence and was developed by Judith Glazer. One of the fascinating revelations of her research into conversational intelligence, or C-IQ as it is called, is that our words ‘light up’ different areas of our brains and depending on the area – the amygdala or the limbic region for example – promotes the release of oxytocin, cortisol and other stress or soothing hormones. It seems our words have a direct impact on our emotional states. In other words, the brain, which categorizes everything it encounters into either a threat or a reward, will respond physically to the perceived meaning of our words. In C-IQ, the language of this polarized brain is embedded in the notion of trust or lack of trust. Do we generate trust (reward) in our relationships or do we undermine trust (threat) with our words and body language?
Are you aware of when you are generating trust or mistrust? Are you skilled at modifying your words to alter the effect you are having on those around you? I have sometimes found it challenging to craft my language with connection and contact in mind, especially when feeling stressed. Having the presence of mind, in the moment, to be able to observe the signals being given by those with whom you are in conversation, to be able to interpret those signals, incorporate the feedback, and modify one’s own thinking and feeling and speech all in the split seconds that transpire in the course of a conversation, are very complex actions. We as organisms are capable of that level of complexity but usually we need to in a state of integration, stress-free, or in the ‘flow’. Human relationships are complicated things and we can all use some skill-building to improve how we navigate through them.
The work of Conversational Intelligence aligns very well with and expands the work I do with clients on emotional intelligence, body language, emotional affect and energy. It is also helping me to build new skills for my relationships.
If you haven’t already done so, why don’t you take the 8 Fold Path of Equus self-assessment? You might learn some useful things about yourself. Its free, instant, complimentary, and confidential. You can get to it here: 8 Fold Path of Equus/.