Mountain Musings

Constructive communications: A gentle rein nourishes cooperation

Special to The CambrianMay 7, 2013 

When you rein your horse, do you apply painful pressure until you’re understood? Do you swing your reins and slap your horse to get your way? Do you pull hard or jerk a lot? Of course you don’t.

Your horses couldn’t possibly understand what you want of them if you were to handle your reins in such unruly ways. Impatient and forceful demands only serve to create confusion and frustration.

And that’s just asking for resentment and rebellion. At the very least, communication that a horse or a human perceives to be unpleasant or unfair will likely cause defensiveness.

If you want to persuade a horse or a person to go along with your plans, or get onboard with your ideas, the way in which you converse may make all the difference. To impart information intelligently, you must guide the conversation in a way that encourages listening and understanding.

Patience is important. Calm endurance accompanied by an intention to communicate in a cooperative and productive manner provides opportunities for everyone to feel heard. Positive, assertive words and actions are far more effective than negative, aggressive assaults.

The second your motivations are seen as selfish, you can be sure others will be hesitant and reserved about working with you. Although it may take time and practice to develop communications that promote appreciation for one another’s agendas and proposals, it doesn’t take long to comprehend a kind and generous cause.

If you desire to communicate, consider the horse’s, or the human’s, level of comprehension. Think about their outlook on life, their fears, their pleasures, their values. Know them to influence them.
The ultimate in success is when we come to acceptance and agreement because of compassionate and constructive communications.

Have something to say? Strive for clear, direct, and thoughtful communications.

Now, go ahead and take the reins.

Michele Oksen’s column is special to The Cambrian. Email the resident of Cambria’s mountain community in the Santa Lucia range at

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