Communication Tips From Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was the first book on my summer reading list. Somehow I had never read it before and I was curious. I found myself equally frustrated and fascinated, a desirable combination I must say, with Miss Eyre and her cast of characters. 

Along with the angst and longing, the story is filled with lessons. Two of my favorites quotes provide great tips about communication. 

Tip #1: Discipline is a must

"Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when the body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour..." p221

Have you ever been in a moment as Bronte described? You are nose deep in temptation and everything in you wants you--begs you--to reject the ideal you know to be right and true and give in to what feels good now.

We have all been there at some point. What we know to be true is that the moment we give in to temptation it becomes harder to resist the next time. Conversely, when we deny our temptation it becomes easier to deny the next time around.

Our communication skills are learned, practiced, and refined by real life situations. In my workshops and coaching sessions, I have people practice the skill multiple times. But it is easy to say the perfect thing in an controlled non threatening environment, right? 

What about in the heat of the moment?

This is when practice  proves so valuable. Practice gets your body comfortable with what you are going to say so that your delivery is smooth. I highly recommend you read the post about the importance of practice

But let's be real for a second. What Bronte is really saying to us in that quote?

  • Communicative discipline is for when we want to tell that know it all coworker where to go and how fast to get there. 
  • Communicative discipline is for when we want to vent on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Communicative discipline is when we want our fists to have a meeting with someone's face.

In times of turmoil, you have the opportunity to show discipline and not react out of emotion, fear, or shame. When you have skills, you have choice. When you have a choice, then you can choose to do, say, and respond in the way you know you to be right.

Tip #2: Aim For The Heart

I could never rest in communication with strong, discreet, and refined minds, till I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed the threshold of confidence, and won a place by their heart's very hearthstone. p 263

That is a powerful and BRAVE image of communication. It says that as communicators, we have to purposely seek deeper levels of connection. In other words, we have to earn the right to sit at the table of influence.

Conventional methods and means of communication are only useful when we enact them from a deep sense of respect aiming to show that we care and can be trusted.

Jane Eyre was an unconventional, communicator in her time because she dared to go beyond the shallow topics of communication expected of women and strove for communication that produced genuine connection.

She was known in the book for saying what was on her mind, a trait that often surprised people. This is significant because in the late 19th century it seemed "unlady-like" to actually say what you meant. She dared to make herself open and transparent.

We cannot expect to build trust or get past shallow surface communication tactics with employees, bosses, co-workers, family, and friends if we ourselves aren't willing to be open and a little bit vulnerable.

I don't intend to imply that every interaction we have with people will or must result in having a new best friend. Certainly not. I am implying that every interaction we have with people is an opportunity to say with our actions, YOU MATTER!

Think about it. How much better would you work if you knew your boss cared about YOU more than the job? Or imagine the depth of relationship you would have with your teen if he or she knew, you respected their ideas and opinions even if you didn't agree with them?

The type of communication Bronte challenges and encourages us. It challenges us to be disciplined enough to practice our newly learned communication skills especially when it is hard. It encourages us to seek deeper levels of communication with people in our circles of influence. We have to know that a seat at the hearthstone of one's heart is privilege to be earned.

What lessons have you gleaned from a book lately?


  1. Communication is an interesting cycle. Between two people alone, you have the listener, the medium, and the speaker. The environment of either the listener or speaker affect how the medium is translated properly.

    For instance, if you are a poor listener, you are more likely to not understand the message. If you are a poor speaker, your message can also be skewed.

  2. You are absolutely right Nile! Communication is an interesting cycle because there are so many factors that cam further complicate it. We have to be intentional on making it simple and clear don't you think?