When voice and body awareness educator Chris James works with individuals and companies around the world, one message always resonates – building a more conscious presence within ourselves is the only way to become aware of the effects our words and conversations have on ourselves and others.After working as a voice teacher, singer and musician, Chris used his learnings to reinvent himself and has since taught hundreds of thousands of people how to express themselves clearly and with confidence through seminars, conferences and festivals around the world.Chris said discovering our natural voice taught us to more fully experience and trust our creativity and intuition, freeing us up to express ourselves more clearly.“Our natural voice is the voice we were born with – naturally in tune, free flowing, and clear of any emotional restrictions,” Chris said.Chris said the way in which we communicated boiled down to the type of stories we told ourselves.“Where people belittle themselves or pump themselves up in conversations, they are not being true to their real selves. These types of ‘stories’ or ‘patterns of expression’ can be like self-destructive vocal bombs we let off everyday,” said Chris.How do we turn this type of self-sabotage around? Becoming more connected to our bodies and the present is a great start, according to Chris.“When we start to connect to the here and now, we start to understand what we are truly feeling and what is going on internally and around us. This is how we can come to understand whether our words and conversations are harming or healing others.”“This work can start a great ‘spring clean’ effect to our words and speech. Our expression starts to feel lighter, and we stop dragging ourselves and others down with our words.”According to Chris, neuroscientists have shown prolonged exposure to negative expression impacts our ability to be flexible, adaptive and to learn.“It is also interesting to note when a person isn’t centered they tend to talk faster and slightly higher in pitch. Others will typically feel a ‘push’ from them. As you work to re-connect daily to your gentle breath and stillness, your connection to your inner heart will become stronger and this will translate to your voice.”Chris said great listening skills were an essential communication tool.“Learning to actively listen is some of the most important work we will ever do. Most people at work, at school and in relationships feel they have never truly been heard.”“Mastering this task can help you substantially improve your relationships with clients, colleagues and loved ones.”Practising regular self-care was another important piece of the equation, according to Chris.“There is evidence the reduced health and wellbeing of health professionals notably reduces the quality of patient care. It is so important to balance our personal and professional lives – at the end of the day how we live is what we impart to others.” chrisjames.net 1. Forget about your agenda.Let go of any preconceived ideas or what you want from the conversation and concentrate on hearing what the other person has to say. This will help you truly understand where a person is coming from. 2. Don’t interrupt.As hard as it may be, let the person speak without speaking over them. If they feel you are truly listening they will express themselves more clearly, confidently and succinctly. They will also feel greater respect and trust towards you. 3. Don’t rush. Listening properly by being fully present is relaxing and truly productive... and it actually doesn’t take any longer!