Thursday, January 10, 2008

Breaking Out

Awareness of our communication is always going to be a problem. Assumptions are many and are almost always incorrect. For example, someone reports that you didn't seem too happy when you were told that our vacation plans were going to change. Your position is simple, since I can't do anything about the change in plans, why say anything. So, as you recall the situation, you didn't say anything.

Here's a problem: communication is inescapable. We may not have "said" anything using our words, but we may have said a whole lot with our nonverbal communication. We actually believe that since we didn't "say" anything you can't know that we have been frustrated by a change in plans. Of course we can be misinterpreted, because nonverbal communication is extremely ambiguous, but the more others know about us the less ambiguous our nonverbal communications are.

Another problem: communication is irreversible. We can't take back the verbal or nonverbal communication. It is already in other people's minds and not even they can get rid of it. In fact, the more you try to remove the communication the more likely it is that it will be recalled.

Indeed, communication is complicated. Games like poker can be played more successfully if you are able to hide your nonverbal communication. Some of us seem to be transparent and couldn't keep a secret if our lives depended on it. Some of us "have a way with words" and always seem able to say just the right thing. The more attention we pay to our communication and the better we listen to communications the more likely it is that we can reduce the consequences of being "trapped in our own skin."

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