Let It Go and Be an Effective Communicator

Frozen’s Oscar-winning track, Let It Go has long been an anthem of kids and adults alike since its release in 2013. As of today, the official upload of the hit Disney song has generated almost 1.2 billion views on YouTube. It has dominated music hit charts worldwide for many weeks. It has inspired different versions and video covers such as that of Jimmy Fallon’s. But what is in this song that makes everyone including kids and adults want to sing it? Definitely, it is more than just a song with a good, striking melody. It has a powerful message that all kinds of people can resonate with. It calls for freedom from one’s own fears. For those who want to be better communicators, you may take this hit track as your anthem too. Letting go is the first step to being a communicator. But how?

We have interviewed Ms. Milagros Arrevillaga, Ph.D., associate professor, registered guidance counselor and a fellow communication training consultant about the process of letting go to become a better communicator. According to Dr. Arrevillaga, “Letting go implies removing the blocks that impede effective communication.  The blocks are toxins that poison either the thoughts or the emotions.  Such thoughts refer to unhealthy or distorted ideas or perceptions that get in the way of transmitting the message.” Thus, if one wishes to improve his or her communication skills, the first step is to let go of these toxins. Now, what exactly should we let go of:

Distorted thoughts. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” When communicating, everything else stems from your thoughts. Positive thoughts yield positive results; while distorted thoughts yield negative results. Dr. Arrevillaga says, “Examples of distorted thoughts are: ‘I am not good enough’; ‘I should not commit mistakes’; ‘I need to please everyone.’  If these dominate one’s psyche in giving the message, then one who thinks he or she is not good enough may unconsciously manifest the poor self-image through his or her body language (e.g., mannerisms such as  body swaying, lip wetting, shifting one’s weight from one foot to the other – these definitely distract during speaking).  The dictum ‘I should not commit mistakes’ can affect the spontaneity in expression, thus disrupting the natural flow of expression (e.g., robotic, mechanical speaker).  On the other hand, a communicator whose thought is dominated by ‘the  principle of pleasing everyone’ may not be able to assert or emphasize what he/she really wants to say, thus losing the sense of conviction in speaking. 

Negative emotions. Just like distorted thoughts, negative emotions hinder one from successfully expressing himself or herself. According to Dr. Arrevillaga, “Negative emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety are toxic since these may contaminate the message relay.” Many times, people allow their fears to take over themselves. They  fill their minds with the worst possible scenarios that can happen during a presentation at work, for example.  They fill their minds with “what ifs.” In effect, instead of successfully delivering the presentation they have practiced over and over again, they freeze in front of their audience and face the much dreaded mental block. Remember that if you make your fears bigger than your dreams, it will be hard for you to achieve your goal as a communicator.

On the other hand, negative emotions do not only affect one’s ability to speak, but also his or her ability to listen. Dr. Arrevillaga states, “It should be noted that listening is part and parcel of the communication process. For instance, at the height of one’s anger, the person may express himself or herself verbally and/or nonverbally.  However, the component of listening or receiving the message of the other party may be expected to log off or even shut down as a result of the intense feeling in one’s system.”

Becoming an effective communicator is a process. This is something that cannot be done overnight. But taking the first step of letting go is crucial. Dr. Arrevillaga sums it up, “In essence, effective and better communication requires awareness of the negative forces that obstruct giving and receiving of message and replacing these ones (i.e.,thoughts and emotions ) that are positive and healthy.  Removing or letting go of these unhealthy forces may be likened to a detoxification  process given to one who used to be dysfunctional  and now allowing himself or herself to function well in certain areas of his or her life.”  So go ahead and make, “Let It Go” your anthem in your journey to being an effective communicator.