United Front: Internal Communication Group Coaching Course
Communication Overview & Background
Originally run as a pilot in the Fall of 2020, this is a reboot to add the materials and lectures to the online platform for it to be released as a self-led course later.
We’re inviting a handful of students from the community to test the materials and give feedback, discussion, etc. so that we can make sure the reboot materials are as helpful as the original group coaching materials were.
Overview of the Course
When we ran this course the first time, we made significant improvements and documentation for the communication pages on Kinhost.org. This course will actually be a practical application course for the techniques documented in those sections and will tie in other works on communication, holding meetings, etc. We will help folk work towards internal communication, direct communication, mindspeak, inner world communication, etc. but along the way y’all will use whatever means work for your& system to communicate.
We’re going to dig right down at the start with the very foundations of communication (some in other sections below) with a goal of improving co-consciousness, and hopefully there’ll be some gems in the course that are new or help to open up more system members to participate in various forms of communication.
As the weeks go by, we’re going to go into more and more depth and more and more advanced topics.
In this particular course, there’s going to be a little more exercises & journal/communication/meeting assignments in addition to the lectures than usual for our courses because the only way to really improve internal communication is to practice and find what works for you & for individual headmates. You’ll be practicing between live sessions. Here’s an idea of what me may cover & possible expected flow of the course (in progress — subject to change):
- Allowing communication, part 2. Communication Mediums & Basics. General “system-wide” broadcasts. We’re going to start out with basic mapping exercises, and each week, there’ll be something new to try. We think that’s a communication tool.
- Roll calls, pings, straw polls, presence, noticing, mapping. Inner world work. We’re going to work on facilitating communication and helping create an internal environment that’s more conducive to communication.
- External tools: pendulum, bulletin board, writing/autowriting, journaling, talking through, talking out loud, meeting notes, typed journals, mirror writing, etc. Meetings and inviting new people to our meeting. Open door meetings, so that you might meet some people that you kind of know are there, but maybe you haven’t met yet.
- Listening deeply, talking inside, mindspeak, emotional flashbacks, intrusions. Internal focus. Emotional and intuitive listening skills.
- Technology & communication techniques. Facilitation, mediation, meetings, discussion format (Q&A), : Agreements.
- Review and a Q&A. Going back over topics throughout the whole group or bringing up new topics.
That’s the big picture overview.
What is Internal Communication?
Communication one of the foundational skills that helps build co-consciousness in your system. It is necessary for building community, building trust, system management, helping people internally to process things to ground, to share information. This is a basic skill that is helpful for a plural system, yet sometimes we overcomplicate it.
Quick note: We use “broadcasting” for any means of sending a message, and “listening” for any means of receiving it. We’re geeky at heart, and these terms are used in many types of communication not just verbal/audio communication. Listening is a verb for “seeking” or being ready to receive a message; it denotes giving one’s attention to the broadcast.
Typically people will talk about internal communication — any communication, really — from an “I want other people to be able to hear me and understand me.” perspective. “I want to push my message out there.” and “I want to be seen and heard!” It can even boil down to “I want to influence you.” or “I want to convince you.”
The question is — is this really what communication is about? Are we using the right word for what we really want?
Communication is important. Not so much broadcasting in myriad ways, or pushing our opinion on others. The important part of communication is that it’s an exchange of information. Same root as the word “commerce” which is an exchange of resources.
Thus communication really is, at the heart of it, the art of listening or interpreting things correctly. Or — to put it another way — that’s the important end of a communication, the side we have much more control over as individuals. A communication doesn’t take place until it’s correctly interpreted and understood. Right now, I am attempting to communicate, but it’s not successful unless other people are able to both receive my words & understand my original intent. No amount of us writing or jumping up and down will get others to even read, much less ensure they understand, what we’re saying. That is up to you, the reader/listener.
A full communication is a transaction where one side broadcasts information and the listener is able to absorb and take in the information and interpret it correctly.
If we write all of this and no one reads it, then it’s a communication attempt. It’s not actually communication. It’s a broadcast that isn’t received, a missed communication. Like when you miss a phone call. Or a letter is lost in the mail. Or an email is returned to sender undeliverable. Or we say something and our friend dissociated and didn’t catch it. Let’s acknowledge that it can be frustrating to package up a message and have it fall into a void.
Another possibility is I’m writing (broadcasting) this, but someone listening misinterprets what I say — perhaps getting offended at something they think we said (or something they think we meant). When the “listener” does not interpret a broadcast correctly, including the intent, then it’s a miscommunication. Someone can be less skilled at packaging their message (and this is an art many improve more and more over time), but even the most skillfully packaged messages can be misinterpreted.
None of this is about blame. Missed communications and miscommunications happen, and pointing fingers or feeling guilty as to why they happen can be a distraction from repeating the attempt at communication, or realizing there was a possible miscommunication and trying to correct it. We misread written messages quite often — and sometimes remember to ask for clarification. An autistic person was complaining about people tweeting about “masking” and not knowing whether they meant autistic masking or pandemic protection masking. Reading a comment one way, or the other way makes a big difference. Thus a listener can check that they’ve interpreted a message correctly, and this helps foster full communication.
The part we have the most control over to ensure a successful communication is actually the listening end. We have more control over what we hear and interpret, hearing being not just with our ears, but sometimes with our eyes and other senses. This includes the our ability to receive information from our system.
This course will cover both ends of internal communication: the attempt to communicate plus the actual receiving of a communication attempt. It’s important to improve our ability to listen and to interpret the meaning of communication attempts from other system members so that we are more receptive to what they’re actually saying. It’s also good to learn creative means for packaging messages, means of broadcasting and inspiring other system members to be more receptive to or more able to interpret what we broadcast correctly.
Practicing full communication — both as a broadcaster and listener (regardless of the mediums) — will help foster co-consciousness & trust in your& system.
Allowing for Communication
Sometimes we make communication more difficult than it needs to be. Sometimes we listen with an agenda — ready to react. Rather than coloring an incoming broadcast with our own individual needs, wants, perceptions, desires, and so on — it can actually help to set ourselves aside for a moment and concentrate on “What is this person really trying to convey?” By allowing their communication to be received in the manner in which is intended rather than putting our own emotions and colors and meanings and shifting the communication, we can avoid miscommunications.
Our internal emotional messes may want to jump in and grab an incoming message like it’s clay and massage it all sorts of ways. We can be so ready to be hurt, especially those of us with trauma histories, that we’re busy emotionally preparing for the impact of the message before the message broadcast is fully received. “They must be blaming me for something.” or “I must be responsible for that” or “They’re trying to start a fight…” By putting meaning on a message before having actually first fully heard the message, we might actually miss the message. Sometimes it’s really important to set aside interpreting a broadcast as long as possible so that we can receive more of the sender’s message.
An example: Say we’re looking forward to seeing someone. They say “If it’s OK, I’m not going to be there tonight…” and already I’m feeling disappointed or start reacting emotionally or crying. I might miss the rest of the message, which is: “…I decided I’m going to leave work early today so I can beat traffic and get there faster. I could be there at 3 in the afternoon instead. Is that ok with you?” I have missed the full message and misinterpreted it because we already started pre-reacting to the message as it was coming. We’ve found it’s best to foster an air of curiosity for these situations. “Huh, I wonder what they’re going to say.” and then remaining attentive and listening.
Learning to allow full communication includes suspending full emotional processing of a message so that we can get the full message before reacting to it.
A Special Note
Every system member is a unique individual on their own development path. When we say that we have mindspeak capabilities for our system it doesn’t mean that every system member in the Crisses can employ that method. Some only respond to emotions, mentions, sending feelings or thoughts. Similar to any other group of unique individuals in the world, everyone’s at their own level of development and their journey is their own.
So we cannot guarantee every member of your system will be accessible, communicative, or able to communicate with the same methods at the same time. You may have to play around with a variety of the methods we talk about in this course, and basically track folks’ favorite or accessible communication methods on a member-by-member basis.
So we can guarantee that you’ll learn things in the course, we cannot guarantee that you’ll all take away exactly the same things or develop at the same pace, or all be equally competent with communication methods at the end of the course. More empathic system members may communicate by emotions or be more intuitive about listening, and members overall will communicate as they’re ready, willing and able to.
So come to the course, curious, with hopefully several headmates willing to roll up their sleeves and play around with different methods of communication, and experiment with what works for y’all, and we’ll provide plenty of ideas for things to try out and see what works for y’all.