Consider the world a moment. Not your world, but the greater world, beyond the artificial boundaries we construct. If you’re having a hard time doing this, then let’s do an exercise together to allow it.
First, settle into this moment. You’re reading these words, and you’re doing this exercise, so for now, nothing else matters. No other part of life or the world matters, right now. You breath in and you’re aware of this moment as you read. You breathe out, and the moment is yours.
Now, with that in mind, expand your awareness outward. Think about your world; your family and friends, your job, your significant other, and all the things attached to them. Nothing specific, but just visualize them as they are — objects within the placement of your world.
Take a step further. Imagine where those things are in their world. Your significant other’s work life, their family. Their friends. Their past and futures. Imagine your children if you have them, or your pets. Your friend’s children or pets.
Now imagine your city or town. Imagine all of those people. Imagine your state or providence. Imagine the people 50 miles in every direction. 100. 500. 5,000.
Imagine the world.
Keep this image in your mind and sharpen it. Each person has their own world as complex as the one you first began in, as intertwined and as influential as yours. Each dot of humanity, a definition-less object of thought that can not be bound by any single ideal anymore than you can.
Now imagine, with such intensely unique and perhaps even withdrawn points across the entire world, that you must communicate with them. You’ll need to tell them your inner-most secrets. You’ll have to explain to them how you feel deep down, layers below the surface of your own world.
I expect you’ll realize that no one can truly grasp how you feel as intimately as you do.
This is the true challenge of communication.
It has occurred to me that we live in a world where the things we say and do are often just analogies. They’re approximations designed to invoke a certain impression that is somewhat like what we mean. We use phrases and gestures to suggest ideas and allude to what we mean. All our words are symbols for ideas, and all of our ideas are unique yet must somehow align to a common view. We try to hone and specify the validity of our points. We try to shed the ambiguity of our intentions by being deliberate.
When miscommunication happens, we react as if in defense of an entire ideal. A disagreement is all-to-often the clashing of perspectives that don’t seem to align as our complicated minds understand them. You and I may read the same words but intuit very different meanings — even from this very blog post. You’ll read it and think something perhaps that I am not intending to say. As has happened many times, I have read over some of my own blog posts and drew different perspectives than what I had when I had written them.
This is how communication is both amazing and horribly flawed. It happens most critically in our relationships.
We see those in our lives and we think we understand how our communication with them operates. Have you ever felt like someone operates on the same wave length as you? It isn’t so much the words that you say to each other as it is the thought processes that seem to jive. To me, this is the foundation of every relationship. If a person’s on the same page as you — the same wave length — then you simply need less words and can communicate more powerfully. If a person isn’t, then perhaps all the words in the world won’t truly bring you both to the same understanding.
I am facing a communication challenge lately in my own life. It isn’t so much a problem with the person as it is with finding ways to align perspectives and to find practical means for problem solving. When I think about it, the problem seems clear to me — almost painfully so: People who don’t say what they mean, who don’t speak directly and honestly, or who are afraid of describing the truth as they see it, are doomed to be misinterpreted.
We cannot be afraid to speak our minds, even if we aren’t sure how they will be interpreted. There are caveats to this, because speaking is only one half of our communication. So, let’s talk about some general rules to good communication:
- Always say what you believe, feel, or think.
- Always be willing to hear what someone else believes, feels, or thinks.
- Always be willing to accept that what you believe, feel, or think has room for improvement or correction.
- Always accept that the truth is the outcome of facts, experiences, perspectives, and life-lessons and that those lessons can be influenced both by your own life and the lives of others.
- Always remember that we are all unique and so experience the world uniquely; there aren’t always universal truths to the same point of view.
- Always accept that you’re not better or worse than anyone else and that your views are just as valuable and malleable as others’ are.
- Always be open to change but always demand the honest truth for it to occur.
I hope this is a good way to strengthen yourself and your own communication. Perhaps the most important rule is that, just like with love, you must effectively communicate with yourself before you can effectively communicate with others.
Talk to you soon.
Image from Life Hack.