Leadership Series, Part 5: Cultivating intuition and inner awareness for more effective communication

ID-1001251522One thing many intercultural researchers agree about is that, when working in situations where ambiguity and paradoxes are everywhere, communication signals are easily scrambled by interpretation differences, and fast, effective response and awareness is crucial to success, individuals need to cultivate a healthy intuition and learn to rely on it.

If this sounds too abstract and a little too new-age, consider this definition by Adair Nagata, an international communications expert who has spent decades studying what she calls “bodymindfulness” and the impact our sub-rational senses can have on communication. Nagata writes, “focusing is way of tuning in to prelinguistic experience…recognizing and working on our inner state at this deep level can change our sense of being, our presence, and also how we express them in language and behavior.”

ID-100260945Focusing on your feelings is not just a way to become more emotional and less rational.  Nagata points out “when we communicate, all aspects of our selves — body, emotion, feeling, mind, and spirit — are involved, whether we are conscious of them and use them skillfully or not. ” Subconscious emotions, for example, can escape in our body language, tone of voice, and other “tells.” These signals may contradict what we are saying and make us seem less trustworthy or appealing to others. When we tune in to these subtle influences, we become consciously aware of them and can utilize them to communicate more effectively or be more creative in our work.

According to Nagata, the fastest and easiest way to become more in tune with our subconscious and our intuition is through conscious breathing. She describes a simple practice that anyone can utilize in almost any environment with just a few moments of quiet:

leader-icon41) Find a quiet place to sit with good posture and both feet on the floor

leader-icon52) Tune into your breathing and see what it tells you about your current state of being

leader-icon63) Consciously begin to breathe more deeply and evenly, maintaining awareness

leader-icon74) Set your intention for how you want to be as you move forward.

leader-icon85) Practice “being here now” — remember, presence requires being present!


Nagata lists several benefits of consciously tuning in to your intuition, your emotions,  and your body, including increased awareness of inner states, the ability to consciously tune or shift inner states, and action that is more conscious and more purposeful.

(drawn from Nagata, A.L. (2007). Bodymindfulness for skillful communication. Rikkyo Intercultural Communication Review, 561-76.)

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About The Author

Desiree Beauchamp

Teacher, trainer, coach, consultant. Find out more about me at: About Us