Say what you mean
Mean what you say
Think about the words
That you're using
Speak for yourself
Say what's on your mind
Think about the life
That you're choosing
Whenever you need somebody
Whenever you're looking
For somebody who knows
When trouble won't leave you alone.
I'm ready to take you now
Whenever you want to go
Yeah, my heart is there for you
For always and ever, now ...
~ Moody Blues ~ Say What You Mean ~
I think that our biggest misconception about communication is that we are all good at it ... that we clearly speak, completely understand and we think we say exactly what we mean. Yet the truth of the matter is that even in the best of relationships with the best communicators, we mis-communicate more than we communicate and we misunderstand more than we understand.
Think about it ... when we have something that we want to communicate we are first faced with the task of trying to figure out exactly what it is that we want to say and, as we all know, that task is not always easy. The task becomes even more difficult when what we have to say is very important to us or in some way emotionally complicated. Somehow we have to put words on our experience, on what we want to say, and much more often than not, the words we have are at least somewhat inadequate to the task. So much gets lost in the translation ...
Even taking those words back and trying again can be tough because the receiver may already be responding to whatever clumsy jumble we coughed up and lost in whatever that cycle of misunderstanding and confusion is that we fall into again and again. Add to the dilemma how complicated it is to clearly hear what they are saying and translate their unique way of saying things into our unique way of hearing things with any degree of accuracy.
Communication and healthy relationships, deep waters that you must dive into over and over again to make it work ...
The problem is that each time an effort to communicate becomes hopelessly stuck in a pattern of miscommunication, we are reluctant to try again. Yet when we really let go of our perception of how things are going to be based on the past, we open ourselves up to the possibility that things can be better.
The art of patience and curious listening ...
Stop the Blame Game ... instead of blaming others, we can take personal responsibility for how we communicate. We can realize that the message we are trying to give is not being heard and our approach not working. When we own our ability to respond, we can be more aware of our own attitudes and behaviours. Without judging ourselves, we can regard ourselves with an attitude of kindness .... because we all have areas we need to improve.
Communication is tough, real tough. But if we are more likely to forgive the awkward process of stumbling around tyring to figure out what we mean and how to say it, we express or true self, who we really are and what we really feel. Remember, unscripted dialogue may be a poor approximation of what ultimately is meant to be said.
By having grace for others, we are more likely to give them the space that they need to figure out what they mean and how to say it ... and we are less likely to react to our first misinterpretation as if it were perfectly accurate.