April 11, 2023

The Art of Transparent Communication

Thomas explores the concept of Transparent Communication – a practice that creates an open and grounded relational space where constructive and creative communication can occur. He explains that this form of communication combines the interconnected data streams of cognitive, emotional, and physical information that are always present in any conversation. When we become attuned to these transmissions from others’ nervous systems, and are consciously creating coherent transmissions from our own, we can establish a deep connection that’s rich in intimacy and free from reactivity.


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“We don’t need an intellectual rationalization of an emotional experience. What we need is an emotional resonance to make the emotion a shared landscape.”

- Thomas Hübl

Guest Information

Thomas Hübl

Thomas Hübl is a renowned teacher, author, and international facilitator whose work integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions and mysticism with the discoveries of science. Since the early 2000s, he has been facilitating large-scale events and courses that focus on meditation and mindfulness-based awareness practices, as well as the healing and integration of trauma.

His non-profit organization, The Pocket Project, works to support the healing of collective trauma throughout the world. He is the author of the book Healing Collective Trauma: A Process for Integrating Our Intergenerational and Cultural Wounds.

His next book Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma—and Our World will be published September 12, 2023 by Sounds True and is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Bookshop, and more!

For more information, visit thomashuebl.com

Notes & Resources

In this episode, Thomas discusses:

  • Transparent communication as an intimate art form, and a contemplative practice of relation in which we inhabit each others’ nervous systems.
  • How we can become curious observers of our reactions to difficult situations in order to stay grounded and ease tension.
  • Transparent communication allows us to recognize subtle transmissions of information through all of our senses, and how that awareness radiates out to those around us.
  • Creating coherence in our nervous system resonates like music to others we communicate with, and we can tune this musical transmission to make it more effective.
  • How traumatic experiences, especially in childhood, create fragmentation within the mental, emotional, and physical information that we transmit, and this can lead to reactivity and conflict.
  • The more we clarify our inner world, the greater our capacity to understand and integrate the outer world instead of “other-ing” things that we don’t understand, or that trigger us.
  • How all of these topics are explored more deeply in his forthcoming book – Attuned: Practicing Interdependence to Heal Our Trauma – and Our World.

Episode Transcript

Thomas Hübl: Hello and welcome, my name is Thomas and I welcome you to Point of Relation, my podcast. Today I want to invite you to explore with me the art of transparent communication. That’s a deep practice that I’ve been teaching over 20 years all around the world, and why transparent communication is an evolutionary practice. And what are actually the skills, benefits, and what is our contribution to our life, our world, our current world situation when we practice transparent communication.
First, to say that transparent communication is sometimes a bit misunderstood because it means, “Oh, I’m sharing everything transparently that’s happening with me.” Of course that’s great. And that’s definitely part of transparent communication. But transparent communication is kind of an art form in the sense that it’s a contemplative practice in relationships, in relating. It’s a relational or a social contemplative practice.

Because, most probably, everybody who is listening to this podcast right now is not living in a cave in the Himalayan mountains somewhere and meditating for 20 years, so our contemplation and meditation is actually our life in the world, in society, in families, as parents, as partners, as husbands and wives, as citizens that contribute to our society. And that’s why we want to bring more and more awareness into the relational process, and through continuous a practice, we strengthen our capacity to illuminate or feel experience and be in relationships in a higher resolution.

Because basically meditation and contemplation are designed for us, to a certain extent, to see and experience life and feel life in a much higher resolution, which means with a much higher awareness. And that higher awareness enables us to see things that we didn’t see before. So when we practice transparent communication, we often say that sometimes expression and bringing myself into a conversation means that I know what I want to say or I’m expressing myself. But transparent communication says, well, that’s great, plus an awareness of myself, an awareness of the space in between us, and an awareness of what the person that I am talking to, I’m in relation with – the group, the team, the group of friends that I am with is actually in my awareness as well.
So then communication is not just about what I want to say or what I want to express, it’s also what you’re hearing. And so an entire awareness process of the person that speaks, the space in between, and the person that listens, needs a lot of attunement. That’s why I called my next book, Attuned, because attunement is the data flow, awareness that happens between us as we are in a relationship or as we are relating to each other.

And I love the analogy of, you know, there was a time when you downloaded a video and then you watched a video. And nowadays, it’s very popular – you are streaming your video as you’re watching it. And so streaming is actually a lot like relating. Present relating is like data streaming. It’s like Netflix. It’s a moment-to-moment awareness of what is actually flowing between us, circulating between us, or what is actually not flowing between us. And the dyadic, or the group experience has a heightened awareness of that process.

So when we speak to each other, when we relate to each other, when we are with each other, even when we hug each other, a lot of data is being exchanged. And the more we are, first of all, embodied in that data and aware of that data, that’s a sense of intimacy. Now, speaking of intimacy, I want to invite you for a moment into a small thought experiment. It’s not only a thought experiment, but a small experiment. So when you listen to me right now – I am happening in your central nervous system. I am intra-existing. I exist in your central nervous system, because that’s where you hear me. That’s where I exist when you hear my words, when you feel what comes with my words and when you relate to what I’m saying. Your sensory input channels, in a way, Thomas into your central nervous system. And there you make the meaning of what you hear, whatever that is.

So relating is actually always a very intimate process. Why? Because we intra-exist in each other. In the moment, not only then, but let’s keep it there for now, in the moment we see each other. We hear each other. We feel each other. We exist in each other. And the capacity to be present to that effect and the capacity to be attuned to the fact that we exist in each other is amazing. Why? Because a lot of data is anyway happening in us that we already received that in-forms me and I listen to you – you in-form me. So I have a form of you in me.

When we say when we are open, what does it mean we are open? When the data goes in deeply, then I have a physical experience of you. I can feel you through my body. I can feel your body through my body. I have an emotional experience because emotions are the connective tissue of life. I have an emotional experience, a physical experience. I have a mental experience I can understand. I can join your mental sphere with whatever you tell me and I can co-inhabit, like the mental dimension with you. And that’s how we understand each other. Or sometimes don’t understand each other.

And then there is a relational dimension, like through the way how openness is actually an openness, a relaxed, regulated state of our nervous system creates within the Polyvagal Theory often is called the kind of the “social engagement zone,” is that when you and I rest in the social engagement zone, that’s where we’re the most open to receive each other, to listen to each other, to be with each other, to be creative with each other, and to have a feeling that we share a space.

So transparent communication, in a way, is a training of making that internal already existing information that we carry of each other in each other, to pay more attention to that. And that communication is not just an intellectual process, it’s always a cognitive intellectual process combined, or not combined, with an emotional experience, with a physical experience, that also leads to our groundedness – that we feel okay, we’re anchored, we are grounded in the body. And what I say and what I feel emotionally and physically is aligned. There is an understanding. Or we could say that things make sense. Something makes sense, it means that it’s felt and thought as one. When thinking and sensing. I know, two, but when thinking and sensing is one process, it’s one flow throughout my nervous system. That sense-making, things make sense. I can feel it. I can understand it. And it makes sense.

Often though, and especially where we are hurt, traumatized, wounded, or unconscious – the thinking is a bit, or a lot, split off of emotional and physical experience. And then we can talk about things, but we don’t feel them. So if you talk about things that we can feel, what we transmit into the relationship is thought patterns, thoughts, and belief systems, and kind of cognitive structures. We transmit those into the space, but we transmit something else through our body. So suddenly there are two or more information streams instead of a coherent sense-making. And that I transmit into the space, I transmit the fragmentation into the space– a two-ness, a three-ness or more, because communication is also about the coherence of the information that I send out.

Sensemaking is not talking about but sense-making is talking from. That’s also how we know that if something is authentic, authentic means “I can feel you in what you’re sharing or what you are saying.” Sometimes people say a lot, but we can’t feel them in what they’re saying. So the data flow in the body and the emotional data flow and the cognitive and maybe also the spiritual data flow are not combined. Which is okay, because that’s what happens when we are hurt or traumatized. But it’s an important information because it informs me already with an unconscious split in the information. When I am very present and aware of it, then I notice it. And then it’s actually important information for me. If I don’t notice the split in or the person radiates to me, and I feel a bit uncomfortable, I maybe get a bit triggered. I don’t fully understand what the person is saying.

And then there’s already a little bit of an agitation or sometimes a lot of agitation in the relational space that has a much higher probability of some kind of either escalation, reactivity, misunderstanding, not speaking the same language, drifting apart in the higher versions of escalations of conflicts. But we see that these conflicts are often based on a non-coherent inner information exchange. That what the person says and intellectually understands is not what’s embodied as a life.

And so, transparent communication as an art form is, in a way, looking at that deeply and making that more transparent. And transparent in the sense of, if we refine our sensing, we refine our awareness, that these small little details, sometimes they are very obvious, of course, but sometimes they are not that obvious. A bit more subtle. But they are still happening. Even if they’re subtle and we don’t recognize it immediately, it’s happening. And as I said, I want to make sure to restate the fact that we have this kind of inner fragmentation is always based on traumatization, childhood traumatization, other adverse experiences we had or that our ancestors had. And we grew up in a family system that had a lot of fragmented messaging going on. And so that became the normal ecosystem that I know, it seems like normal, that’s the way it is.

Until I find out, wait a moment. That’s not just normal. That’s what happens when we live in a world that is partly hurt. So instead of calling it normal, maybe we call it there are some moments when the hurt of life speaks through fragmented messaging.
And I think a representation of fragmented messaging is even if we need to talk more, maybe in a later series about fake news. But the fact that fake news exists is the collective aspect of what I shared right now. And we will park just for a moment and we will come back to that in another episode. Today, I would love to stay a bit more with the art form of transparent communication.
And so transparent communication as a contemplative practice, and contemplative doesn’t necessarily mean meditation, it can be in very lively and energized conversations that I am very present in and very present with. And I notice many things and I’m aware of many aspects of the process of relating while I am in very different environments, it can be business meetings, it can be a parenting experience, and they can be with our loved ones and dear ones and families or as a citizen in society where I express my agency.

And so it’s an awareness process based on a more coherent interior. We will in one of the next episodes or so do a practice, kind of a tuning our inner instrument. Because the coherence in my nervous system between my cognitive functions, my emotional functions, my physical functions, that’s like the music instrument. That’s how I resonate with you or you resonate or you don’t resonate with me. That principle of resonance is like music. And I think a lot of, in human relationships, are based on music. And the more open our nervous systems are, the more refined is the quality of listening to the music that we send out.

And of course, for everybody that works in the therapeutic profession, the coaching profession, consulting, and teaching, and mediating, and many more professions that are based on constant interactions between human beings, attunement and being attuned, and in that sense, a transparent communication is an amazing tool. Because we constantly refine our capacity to notice many, many details in the data flow that are very important because they inform us. Which means it creates a form. And if that form is unconscious, so there are unconscious forms in our life that we often don’t understand. But there are. Then there are the conscious forms. So I’m aware of the process and I am consciously informed. And that, of course, is very helpful not only for myself, because that awareness also radiates around me. And so it actually becomes actually part of my impact that I have in life is awareness based, all the parts in me that I’m aware of that have a conscious impact on my environment all the time. So it’s actually part of a conscious ecosystem, or that’s what I can contribute to any kind of ecosystem I become part of.

So transparent communication is kind of a refinement and turns relating into an art form that we can more and more refine and that leads, of course, more and more to the fact that my capacity to include more of the world is growing. Because every time I get overwhelmed or a certain part of the world meets me in a place where I can’t process or compute it, I externalize it, I begin to “other” that part of the world. It’s there. It’s them. It’s he. She. It’s that. The more I clarify in my own inner world, and that has nothing to do with the things that I agree to, the values that I agree to or that I disagree with – it has nothing to do with it. It has something to do with computing the experience in the first place before I even respond.

Because reacting means experiencing something only partly because when we get triggered, we need to react against that experience. And responding, we are responding to. Which means I experience the experience first, it lands in me, it’s informing me, and then my intelligence is able to respond to it. But when we get triggered, we don’t respond. We react. Which means the information that we experience doesn’t go in. It doesn’t really inform us because it hits a trigger, it hits a trauma, it hits an unconscious layer in me. So I actually pushed it back. Because it’s hard for me. Then we often say it’s a difficult moment, it’s a difficult situation. It’s hard for me. These are all words that cover up my inability to relate to something.

That’s why I often say in the supervisions with therapists or coaches, like when there’s the notion of a difficult client, but the difficult client is never outside. A difficult client is always in the facilitator. There’s something difficult that I experience with a certain person or a certain situation or a certain character, or a certain personality structure that is hard for me to handle. But it’s different, if I don’t know that, then I say that person is difficult versus it’s hard for me to experience that. Once I experience it, I can still agree or disagree with things that are being said or with things that are being done. And I will be even more effective in relating to what’s happening. But I had the experience.

Transparent communication is also teaching us, when of course, when we are open and available for it, that every difficult situation or every situation that is harder is also– I’m not talking about criminal situations or very abusive situations that’s not I’m talking about– I’m talking about interpersonal situations in daily life or any kind of situation that I feel are it’s harder for me to relate to that. And that’s where my own personal work is very important, that I become curious- what actually is my experience in that moment? What actually is my experience is, it has a physical dimension, sometimes I feel tight, sometimes I feel open, sometimes I feel I’m harder and I am very stressed, where I feel a bit numb and frozen physically, or I feel numb and frozen emotionally. Or I have a whole range of emotional experiences.

And so every time I run into a difficult or a hard experience, I can ask myself, “Okay, if I take off the word difficult or hard, what is actually my real experience?” Maybe I got very scared, maybe I became numb. Maybe I just shut down and I closed myself. So there are many, many versions, as we all know. But it’s great to look at this and just to say, okay, the emotion is whatever fear or sadness or anger or shame, and my physical experience is tightness, stress. I don’t feel my body. I feel my body, but I’m not really grounded, I’m kind of above the ground. And I begin to develop a deeper awareness of my inner states in relation to the world.

And so both more relational attunement, more feeling each other when we talk to each other, noticing the small little details that happen when we relate to each other without even pointing anything out. It’s not about pointing it immediately out. It’s about first being aware. And not to forget that when I’m grounded in my body, my body kind of knows your body. We feel a lot in the physical body when we’re open and when we practice it. My emotions know your emotions. I don’t need to have you explain to me what you’re feeling emotionally, I’m feeling it anyway.

Because sometimes we say, “Okay, what are you feeling?” Because I don’t feel what you feel. I ask you. It looks like we need an intellectual translator to speak emotional language. And we have the intellectual capacity to talk about intellectual things, philosophy, science, or whatever, daily practical things. And that’s great. But we don’t need an intellectual rationalization of an emotional experience. What we need is an emotional resonance to make the emotion a shared landscape. That creates safety. It creates togetherness. It creates the feeling, “Somebody is really listening to me. I feel heard.” It means when somebody enters my emotional world with me. When we share an emotional space together, we feel heard. We feel felt. We feel that somebody really got us. And that often leads to an easing of tension, of stress. And then it’s also much easier to come up with creative solutions because our whole nervous system is in a different state and that state can be creative, curious, find some solutions, and know how to find support much easier.

So many of these things, of course, that I talked about now, you can also find it in my book Attuned. And in one of the next episodes, we will go deeper into the practical application, we will do together as a practice like in a body attunement practice, how we can tune our instruments, our body, and our whole inner coherence flow. And so I invite you to stay tuned and to enjoy the flow of information of today’s session. It’s also about our relation, and that’s why the podcast is called Point of Relation.

It is a point that we meet when we meet really and we engage in something, we are creating a world together. And so maybe to let the information you listen to sink in a bit, see how it’s relating to your life, which kind of aspects you notice in your life, of course, as well. And again, the encouragement, the practicing relational presence and awareness and tuning in with each other, and feeling each other while we talk to each other, is actually a tremendously beautiful practice. It isn’t always easy because we are also meeting our own inner wounds and absences and reactivities. But it’s definitely a very expanding practice that deepens something that’s very fundamental for life and that’s human relationships. Or relationship to all life, basically, is not only human relationships, it’s to the entire universe, because we exist only as relational beings. So thank you very much. And I encourage you to stay tuned.