Basic communication has only 4 parts and can get complicated or distorted when we forget where we are in the process and stop paying attention.
Each part of the process takes time to develop, be fully expressed and experienced. Moving on too quickly creates that uneasy feeling of being incomplete.
Communication primarily deals with Thought, Feelings, Beliefs, or Memories.
In its purest form, communication is Creation, bringing something into existence in language from nothing - Thinking is not communication, it’s thinking!
BEFORE - What happened, the experience that precedes communication
Usually something happens that triggers thought, feelings, beliefs, or memories (past tense) or inspirations (present or future tense).
Part 1 - What happened (the event)
Responsibility and ownership of experiences in my life is important for me and only me. I can’t speak for someone else’s experience, only my own. Examples are somebody said something to me, I saw something, I heard something, I tasted something - some physical sensory experience in my life happened.
Part 2 - What did I experience, do, or say as a result of what happened
What was my experience of what happened? What reaction did I have to it? What did I think it meant, what did I do, say, or believe, how was I inspired, saddened or did I anticipate, even worry about, what was I afraid of.
If we are honest and look deeply, in this part of communication we get in touch with or learn from our automatic reactions to life’s endless situations and conclusions we made about our past. Now we have a choice; unconciously continue that behavior or choose something better and different.
Part 3 - Clean up the mess
Here we apologize for causing upset or damage in the life of those who experienced what we said or did. This is the hardest part of any communication because we are vulnerable and exposed; we tell on ourselves, we reveal the jerks, the animals that we are on automatic pilot. Since this will continue for the rest of our lives we must get good at cleaning up after ourselves. The only alternative is a path of destruction behind us. We are always 100% responsible for being the cause of what happened (Part 3). Realizing this, we now communicate from our heart, our deepest inner being, that we caused suffering then ask to be forgiven sincerely and with compassion for those we care about.
Part 4 - Make a new promise
Having seen what happened, recognizing the mess we made, and being committed to behaving better, we can now make a new promise about future behavior. At this point in effective communication, these promises come from our deepest foundational values in life, and can only be promised sincerely once we’ve been through all 4 steps in the sequence. That doesn’t mean long conversations, although at first it may until we get the practice down.
So yes it takes skill and practice to ask “What Happened”!