There has probably been millions of words written about communication. So why bother? We communicate every day, but most of us take it for granted. We think we know how to do it, but do we really consider the massive impact it has on our lives? Do we actively try to get better at it?
I vividly remember my daughter around the age of 3 when learning to express herself would suddenly blurt out ‘I don’t like it’, or ‘That makes me sad’. I remember feeling proud, but at the same time flustered, and sometimes annoyed because of the timing. She was doing what my wife (an infinitely better communicator than me) had taught her to do, to vocalise her feelings without thinking, just throw them out there. Before she learnt to do this she used to get frustrated and express her feelings in other ways, the most common of which was crying.
So if expressing your feelings and thoughts effectively is one part of communication the other part is what comes back to you once you do this, and what you do with it. My daughter is 5 1/2 now, and can engage in meaningful communication, interspersed with periods of her imagination taking control. I notice that when I say something to her, she will pause, and then immediately respond with a question, or less frequently an interesting factoid that she draws out from her limited experience. She does this with an openness that I find refreshing and disarming. Her words, tone, and body language are all aligned with a genuine interest. There’s not a shred of guile.
Of course as adults we all know how much more complex it gets. There are far more less effective ways to communicate than in person. I wish I could convey to you how much I dislike email and it’s seductive call, but alas, I’m still learning.
I have this surreal mental movie of us all as adults. We’re walking around in a shared existence, but within our own bubbles of reality. We have goggles strapped to our heads that we can’t take off. These goggles are much like camera lenses that can have multiple filters stacked on. The goggles protect our eyes, but they also filter our vision. As we grow our eyes change but then so too do the goggles, as filters are added, changed, or removed. I wonder what would happen if we were to regularly pause and consider what we are, and how we communicate with those around us.
There has probably been millions of words written about communication. So why bother? Because I’m actively trying to get better at it.