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Making Sense of Communication

What we communicate makes PERFECT sense to us. The trouble with communication is the person (or people) we communicate to.

Half of what I just said is preposterous. Yet, something tells me you had a twinge of agreement to both comments.

The truth is, communication is tricky. Whenever you have two or more people involved what we say and how we say it matters more than we would care to admit. The state of mood of the recipient of our communication and the context of the conversation also matter more than we would care to admit.

Remember this old bit, from Abbott & Costello? Watch this for some laughs and then read on to the end.

In order to have effective communication in relationship there needs to be success in four areas, working in order and dependent on each other.

  • There is the message, which we wish to deliver

  • The way in which we deliver the message: body language, words we select, our demeanor, context, mood

  • The way in which someone receives the message you deliver in the manner you delivered it: their mood, state of being, context, demeanor

  • How the receiver of the message interprets the message they received.

At any one of these points 2-4 we can mess up our communication. There are internal factors (our moods, feelings we have toward the receiver, biological factors) that affect the way in which we deliver the message. Then there are external factors involved, such as the mood of the person we are communicating with, circumstances surrounding the communication and the preconceived notions of the one you are communicating with or even yourself.

So then why even try to communicate?

There is no way we can go through this life WITHOUT communication in relationships. Even if we never talked, we would communicate through our actions, facial expressions, body language, and our emotions.

The only way we stop physically communicating is if we are dead. Even after that, how we lived our lives can communicate through memories.

This should help explain why in relationships we have MIS-communication. These miscommunications are caused by a breakdown in one of the four areas of communication mentioned above.

The question is, where does our responsibility end in the communication? I would like to submit that our responsibility in communication, or the breakdown of the communication, does not end. We carry the responsibility all the way to the point where the original message is interpreted and understood (or misunderstood).

We cannot control the external circumstances, the mood or emotional state of the receiver of the message, but we can certainly follow through with the message to ensure the content, desire, or intent of the message is understood – at least to the best of our ability.

There are ways we can potentially fulfill all four areas of communication, but never with everyone and certainly not all the time. When you get to know someone, through building a relationship, hopefully there is truth being shared.

When you communicate truthfully and your actions line up with the truth, the receiver of your communication develops a trust and belief that you will be trustworthy.

When you build on your relationship with someone by proving you are trustworthy, an understanding will develop, a sense of someone's state of mind by reading the non-verbals involved start to take hold. This can help gauge when you decide to communicate.

When you are upset, emotional, sad, or even ecstatic you can decide whether this is the right context for you to pass along the message you intend to deliver.

Take note of your conversations and communication and journal the first two areas of communication as well as the result with the recipient. Over time you will begin to see a pattern develop (whether good or bad). Then you should start to see how you can adjust your half of communication and begin the path of successful communication with others.

What we communicate makes PERFECT sense to us. The trouble with communication is that we do not take the recipient into consideration.

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