Thursday, October 23, 2008

Importance Of Words

When we have a limited vocabulary we sometimes don't make much sense to ourselves, let alone others. The greater the vocabulary the more likely that we can express ourselves accurately. Take interpersonal relationships for example.

If we recognize that there is a progression in relationships and that we can name them, then we also understand that we must take care to not get the "cart before the horse." These terms are important: 1) pre-interaction awareness, 2) initiation, 3) intensification, and 4) intimacy.

Pre-interaction awareness: describes what happens when we become aware of people who appear to have the potential to be important to us. They may appear to be beautiful, handsome, bright and/or funny. We like what we see. Clearly the more experience we have in analyzing people the more likely our assumptions will be accurate. Saying or doing anything that is not appropriate for this level of the relationship can threaten the very survival of the relationship. Hard as it is to remember, other people are doing to us what we are doing to them. This stage of a budding relationship is critical if for no other reason than nonverbal communication is always ambiguous.

Initiation: decribes the first direct contact with the other person. You move from passive to active communication. Mom often talked to most of us about first impressions. This process of initiation is part of that first impression and you're not going to get two chances to make that first impression. Mom was right. Don't you hate it? You must be careful, thoughtful and bring to bear all the skills you have in reading people from a distance in order to be successful. That may very well be why introductions are still very valuable, because someone else can put you into the "proper" context before you start to initiate the relationship.

Exploration: a period of time which can and should be used to find out more about the other person and share information about yourself that they really ought ot know. This period need never end. You will never know everything about anyone you know and they are in the same position. Somehow we have gotten the idea that if you know enough about a person to claim them as friend or spouse you know everything you need to know. That may be a contributing factor in the break of friendships and marriages. Never stop exploring. Exploring takes time and focus. You may think that its just a dinner at some restaurant and you would be wrong. It is much more than food and surroundings, it is finding out about the other person and what they like and don't like. Or how they feel about some issue that comes up during dinner. Without the continuous exploration you may be headed for stress or even disaster.

Intimacy: a term we often limit to physical realationships and shouldn't. It is true that intamacy attempted at the wrong time may be considered inappropriate and forever damage a realtionship. But, on a broader base, intimacy is knowing a person in ways that no other does or maybe can. That takes time, contact, focus and those are all things that we tend to short change.

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