Resource Toolkit: Natural Communication

Natural Communication provides the skills to express yourself, hear others, have a fruitful conversation. These methods are part of my overall Natural Happiness model using gardening analogies. All this is closer to gardening than you might think: both need a dynamic approach which accepts conflicts as normal, and seeks to learn and grow through them. You can probably see that the other way, imposing control, suppressing the problems, doesn’t work for long. So here are some principles for natural communication:

  • See the situation like a garden: consider the other person, and your relationship, with a gardener’s eye.  What is the ground condition, how could it be improved?  What do you need to cultivate or prune out?
  • Grow from the roots: if your connection with this person is tricky, how could you nourish its roots, give it some positive energy for new growth?
  • Observation: a gardener looks closely at what is, and avoids getting lost in emotional drama or their own needs and mindset.  As Stephen Covey says, ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’
  • Accept decline and endings: in Nature, we see decay and death all the time, but we humans find them hard to accept in our lives.  Maybe you need to talk about a relationship or project which is in decline, or has reached its end.  Recognise this can be hard for everyone involved.
  • Use heart and head: gardeners are great role models for combining love with skill and intelligence.
  • Make space for pauses: someone at work in a garden will pause regularly to reflect and let intuition contribute. This can make stickier conversations easier too.  Try suggesting a couple of minutes of reflective quiet at the start, or anytime tension is rising.

Here’s an overview of the main practical elements of natural communication, drawn from a range of leading experts:

  • Clean communication and assertiveness: simple ways to make your point clearly and acceptably, for example using ‘I’ statements, not generalising or blaming
  • Body language: understanding and using it well, for example making eye contact
  • Good listening: ways to ensure that you really hear the other person, and that they feel heard
  • Giving negative feedback: this is notoriously hard to do well, but there are methods which can help
  • Receiving criticism: pointers to help you hear and consider critical comments, without blowing up!