It was George Bernard Shaw that said the biggest misunderstanding in Communication was the ‘illusion that communication had actually taken place at all!’
Now that is something big to consider before opening one’s mouth to begin a conversation or splurge words into someone’s face. I might even go so far as to say that only equals can communicate! What do I mean by that!? There has to be a high level of similarity and mutuality for effective and resourceful communication to take place.
I mean as human beings we are a highly interactive species and the idea of being non reactive in speech would be an alien concept for most! Yet this statement by Shaw does open up a conversation on what, why and how one is essentially communicating and what the hell for!? For the most part it is a secret intention that fuels most of our conversations with others and there is always a mutual message or driving interest being shared, whether Positive or negative. An often overlooked simple truth.
The first and most important thing to observe and consider in Communication is always the why?! There are always primary needs or motives to be met. Have no illusions about it! Every single communication be it verbal, non verbal, visual or oral is simply a point of reference or contact that has an intention or power behind it. In the matrix of conversation there are always two sides inter-relating, mediating, finding compatibility, mutual ties or not! Diplomacy in contact is the soft glove that covers over the deeper rifts or power struggles within contact?! Yes, where there are two sides there is enevitably power balance or mutuality, unless we opt out from contact entirely and choose isolation.
One could ask!? How could such simple conversations in life mask such trivia in power! The answer lies simply in the fact that every conversation is a meeting point! Mediating and correalting similarity and distance between two people. This represents a complex meeting of life, persuasion and perspective. Fundamentally all conversation be it about life, work, love, politics, day to day tasks or conversations about God are about two individual forces meeting and just like magnets they either Repell or attract. Where there is consensus there is bonding, where there is disagreement; division and where there is manipulation and spin; power games. Words in this arena are a dime a dozen! And time is a valuable commodity! That being so, why communicate at all?!
I truly believe we communicate as human beings to find ourselves, to find meaning and purpose to our lives. A quest for what is genuine or real to us- our values. So if we really look to ourselves the art of our truest communication is always found in our action and creative endeavours. One can not argue with the truth of action, it is experienced and felt. It is a much more empowering space for any human being to get consensus and agreement, through their actions. This does indeed beg the question: ‘What are we really doing in life to communicate accurately our truest values and message in creative action and direct clear contact?’ What are you really standing for?! The sincerity of our action is the magnet of attention.
So let’s look at the different features of misinterpretation in communication. Where there is a lack of clarity in action or decisiveness in contact there is ambiguity. This can be found on the spectrum between not talking or talking too much. This can be divided into four different categories of passive action in communication.
Holding back: holding back on information, using selective honesty and being dishonest are all features in the holding back strategy. It represents a passive aggression or hostility towards another. There can be no equal contact or mutual respect with this dynamic or interplay.
Hiding: Hiding is a strategy used to hide the truth from oneself or another, where excuses, buffers and deflections are used to defend a real truth or core issue being looked at in the conversation. The truth is always found in how receptive a person is to hearing it. This is a passive form of engagement as it’s coerces gently through the force of deflection.
Switching off is another psychological strategy used in conversation to avoid direct contact in conversation. Where illusive escapism is employed as one wanders off into daydreaming. While seen as the more airy-fairy softer side of aversion, it is still a powerful avoidance technique and one needs to bring mindful awareness as to why they wish to escape from this contact. This is the most illusive passive force in engagement as it’s considered cute but completely avoidant in strategy
Not giving the other space:
One domineering passive strategy in communication is the take over, a strategy employed so the other can’t get a word in edge ways. It is to control the flow and direction of the conversation so as to avoid true direct contact. In such instances people will leave feeling resentful or overwhelmed. One would think this was an offensive strategy by its nature but it is actually the passive strategy of inverted shyness, where one has converted their inability to be receptive-shyness into arrogance.
The true art of conversation and communication is found in the active force that enhances clarity. Conversations and their meanings are precious, to degrade their value and meaning dangerous as you undermine something sacred: your ability to understand a human being clearly and yourself and who you truly are in that. Direct contact in conversation seeks open connection and intention- Receptivity! Broken down into three ideas of ways of being.
Mutuality: letting the other find their flow or passion and being receptive to that. Good conversationists are those who listen first! People like people who listen!
Contribution: finding similarly and contribution is the value found in sharing what is relevant from one’s experience.
Security & authenticity: the more genuine and authentic you are to yourself, the more people will listen to your words as the truth of yourself and experience. Truth has a powerful energy, presence and vibration. People listen to people who have transcended fear within themselves and speak the truth about themselves.
Engagement: being receptive is found in the senses alone and is found in the realm of non verbal behaviour and the willingness to be open. Nodding is an example of non verbal consensus or smiling. Being engaged means there is eye contact, deep listening and mirroring in the non verbal, this is true engagement.
All these are examples of how one can meet themselves in communication, contact and conversation, because at the end of the day all communication is with oneself, their experience, their life story, identity and perception.
Saralee Healing, Saralee Cassidy.
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