I am increasingly intolerant of technology created to connect us, but do so inefficiently and can often reverse the wheels of relationship.
I believe that effective communication, in all its forms, is advancing something. It's purpose is wrapped up in describing reality and demanding an action in one way or another. Ineffective communication does the opposite. It fails to describe what is really going on--either by way of not saying anything, or by dancing around the real point. Additionally it doesn't summon up a valid request--again, by either saying something poorly and pussy footing around the idea, or by not even getting it out there at all.
We know that all forms of communication are not equal to the human organism. Through millions of years of evolution God has engineered a creature that relays information through intensely physical subtleties. These include tone differentiation, facial responses (which can also be heard auditory), gesturally and through posture. Science has put forward that as much as 93% of meaningful communication is registered at the body level, rather than textually. This means that really very little real understanding is even capable of happening beyond that physical level. So what happens when we close it out--when we effectively shut off those receptors? Miscommunication, poor communication, increased projection, and generally speaking a whopping WASTE OF TIME!
If my goal in communicating with you is to deliver something that you connect with fully, and that engages responsive mechanisms in you, wouldn't I want to use the most effective means possible?
Anything that can be ignored easily is a waste of time. Anything that doesn't make maximum impact in terms of communication (when that's your goal) is a colossal drain of energy. Ones that we've become accustomed to are things like: surfing the web, emailing, texting, and business meetings. Those things give you impressions or exposures, they will confirm what you are already convinced of, but do little to advance meaningful exchanges.
It gets better--all of those highly ineffective forms of communicating all create a sense of absolute urgency, in which your immediate attention is interrupted. Not only are the inefficient in dealing with their own agenda's--but they then dilute another set of contact. Examples--remember sitting with your loved one, family member, spouse, or friend--you're laying your heart out, having REAL communication and BAM, you notice...they're staring at their phone. A tweet has just come through, a Facebook notification has just gone off, an email has decended from the ether, a text just got pushed. They're now distracted, and so are you. You attempt to regain your composure, remember where you just were--they apologize profusely, and you move on. But the moment is gone.
And what has been subtly communicated is that your experience and interaction is less important to your loved one, than a tweet from someone on the other side of the world. Their attention went to their priority. That's how real communication works. We give attention to what is important!
Do you get that? Do you get that investing in that form of communication is not only inefficient in terms of meaningful interaction, but it actually puts other, higher, forms of exchange at risk?
This is what I'm coming to:
Text only what is extremely time-sensitive or extremely unimportant. Dates. Times. Locations. Instantly accessible data. Or a dirty joke to a friend who can't possibly take it as anything other than funny.
Email only that which is extremely time-sensitive or extremely unimportant that you can't in good conscious text. In other words something slightly longer, but that fits into the same categories as above. Data. Not experiences, theories, opinions, concepts....
Call when you cannot physically meet. This isn't the best form of communication, but its better than the other two.
Meet when the communication really matters to you. A real friend. A colleague who you want to convert into a real friend, etc... In other words some one or something that isn't just data or isn't really time sensitive. For that, use the earlier two.
and whatever you do follow the Nixon Rule...don't write or record what you don't want to be reminded of later...LEAVE NO PAPERTRAILS...
The point...have good relationships. Don't waste your time and others. Ya know?
How to Communicate Effectively
How do you measure successful conversation? What quantitates a meaningful exchange?
For many people its about hearing some one and feeling heard. But recently I've begun to wonder if this isn't just a subtle form of manipulation. A kind of lying to yourself and the other party, by failing to appreciate what's really going on.
Think about it. I communicate something to you, hoping that you'll hear me. And, I listen to you, hoping you'll hear me.
Read that again.
Do you see that in either case, I'm speaking or listening based on a hope that I'll be heard. Much of our so-called empathetic listening is an attempt create reporte for further dialog. It's actually what I identify as a greater body of REACTIVE communication.
Reactive Communication says something in order to solicit a response. I say you look nice because I want you to say that I look nice back. I say I had a great evening because I want to know that you had a great evening (because that'll make me feel better about myself). I listen because I want you to listen. On and on. In Reactive Communication my entire motivation for speaking is based on a desired outcome--namely ME GETTING SOMETHING OUT OF IT! It's a kind of insecurity that needs the others validation in order to feel valid.
It gets worse. WE DO IT ALL THE TIME. I would say 90% of communication that I encounter on a day to day basis is Reactive. Saying something to solicit something.
Pay attention. Notice what you say, and when you say, and what you REALLY WANT!
So, what should we do instead?
Here's my suggestion: PROACTIVE communication.
Say something because it expresses your reality. Say it without expectation of response. Say it without wanting a single damn thing from the other person. Say it because its true, and you can't do anything other than say it. I would suggest even state what you want without wanting anything. I know, that sounded Zen. But what I mean is that its ok to say what you want, as long as your honest about it and can understand that you may not actually get what you want (because there's another real person involved who you can't control by manipulating them with their words). Because that's what you mean.
Instead of saying, "I had a good time last night...." and trailing off with the hope that they will respond in kind, say whats true: I had a good time last night with you and I'm actually wondering what you felt about it?"
Or don't lead with your impression at all--that may be another subtle way of demanding a particular ego-stroking response, "What did you think of last night?"
Here's why its so important--if you're only communicating in order to get a response, you're not really ever able to actually receive their truth, and you're certainly not giving yours. You're just extending platitudes tailored to illicit a kind of interaction that makes you feel better. It's got to stop. It's doing no one, least of which you, a lick of good.
I know--because up till two years ago I did it all the time. I was brought up assuming reactive communication was real communication (it's NOT). And I mastered the art of subtly controlling the outcome of a persons response by leading them with my words. The reason I was doing it was because I was insecure, in who I was. I needed a set of reactions to feel OK. If I called someone it was because I was feeling needy--not because they needed the call. If I treated you kindly it was because I wanted someone to treat me kindly. If I said a gentle word it was because I was hoping for one in return. If I said it was a nice day outside, I wanted your interaction (not necessarily because it was a nice day at all!) Do you get it? Almost everything I said or did was motivated by a desire for a particular self-serving response.
Something changed. A lot changed actually. But one of the things was because that form of chatter had ceased working. It left me feeling unknown and isolated. What's more is that I was increasingly encountering people who wouldn't play my game. They understood themselves well enough to respond with genuineness and not platitudes. They weren't willing to keep up the culture of lying to make life run smoothly. Slowly, with lots of conscious paying attention--I have trained myself to be a proactive communicator. My goal is state my reality without expectation of response. One of things that starts to eliminate is superfluous communication. My texts or emails are short, clipped, informational. My dialogs often have a stated point. I am working to ensure that what you hear from me mirrors my absolute felt reality.
It's making a difference. It's making me a person you can count on. Who you know exactly where you stand with.
I'd invite you to try it too. The results might surprise you.