When you are communicating with someone, you are sometimes misunderstood, you sometimes cause offense, and sometimes you say something you don’t mean. These are the plunges and pitfalls of communicating.
When you say something you commit yourself to your words, so you’ll want to be mindful of not only what you say, but how you say it. Tone of voice, visual cues with your body and eyes, and the words themselves all need to be congruent, without contradictions, or people get mixed messages. This is how misunderstanding happens.
When someone else communicates with you, it’s good to ask them if you got the message correctly by repeating it back to them. It’s really easy to misunderstand, because words are just symbols for the experience and each word is a different world to each person, from their own perspective.
Curiosity is a good approach when communicating, because quite often what we think is going on with someone else, may not be the case at all. As you ask questions and discover the context of your relationship better, you’re able to communicate more clearly at least about your own experience, and what you are feeling.
Being Clear or Unclear, Does it make a difference?
Many people are very sensitized to other people’s body language and tone, their emotional aura. We call these people “empaths” and they generally developed these skills from an early age, to help them survive a dysfunctional family or situation. Still, they may read the wrong thing into a situation, when it’s new to them and when things are unclear.
When you speak clearly and ask for what you need and want, making a statement, not a demand, that generally works better. Giving people the option and opportunity to make a choice, others are less likely to feel manipulated or coerced into something. These days it’s much more important than it used to be to be clear in asking for physical or sexual intimacy, as well as everything else. But of course you are well trained yourself in reading the non-verbal signs that someone may be willing and interested.
Marshall Rosenberg’s excellent guide to communicating with empathy and authenticity, “Non-violent Communication”, suggests that you can create your life, your relationships and your whole world to be in harmony with your values, with his method. Words are powerful, and when you use them well, creative forces are unleashed in your life.
Communication is a sacred exchange. You can avoid the plunges and pitfalls of communicating if you avoid being judgmental and making assumptions, be curious about others, and ask questions when you need to really understand someone.
Empatharian communication can happen on many levels at the same time. We listen to the heart, the head, the mind, and our instincts, and then choose how to respond. Someone doesn’t need to talk to be asking for something. No one needs to make a proclamation about the mood they’re in, because moods change with the snap of fingers.
You begin to understand that all everyone really needs is to be seen, heard, and appreciated. It’s not helpful to try to be helpful with ideas and input, unless you’re specifically asked for ideas and input. We just can let people be, and appreciate them where they are.
When you are able to listen to someone and really get who they are and where they’re at, it’s a really good feeling. Communicating with someone is a win that feels inspiring. Inner joy and calm are usually the result, whether it’s love relationships, work colleagues, or someone at the bus stop. Human beings thrive on communicating.