How do you ready yourself to communicate with another?

“You must be a martial artist because you bow to me when we begin,” someone said to me at a meeting. While funny, there is deep lesson to be learned here.

The martial bow is about honoring the interaction, honoring the other person. On the aikido mat, the bow is accompanied with asking “Will you do me a favor?”

I like the bowing ritual and the honor it conveys.  I catch myself beginning to bow in business and social interactions frequently.   Although, I stop as it isn’t part of our social culture.

karen bowing

The bow asks for permission to engage.

Each person I engage with throughout my day has his or her own ‘stuff’ going on; many are overwhelmed.  Plunging into my agenda before I connect with the other person or people feels like walking into a wall blindfolded…and, doesn’t make for great relationships.

This is important in healthy relationships and even more important in strained relationships.

How do I honor and ask permission to engage instead of bowing?

  • Simply ask, “Is this still a good time?”
  • Call the person by name and ask a question about something you know is important to him or her
  • Show up on time, prepared and centered
  • Turn off and put away the phone
  • Pay attention to the person or people’s energy/body language pause and ask a question to bring everyone to the present
  • In a group, ask everyone to weigh in on their current state using a weather analogy (cloudy-sunny) or number system;  if time allows, have everyone briefly share a highlight or lowlight going on in their work or life
  • Adjust the physical space so it is comfortable and appropriate

I’d love to know how you ‘bow’ and honor before you engage.  Please share! And, be prepared, in the future I just might actually bow to you!

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