Aristotle, the ancient Greek Philosopher says “human being is a social animal”. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen poet, says the most valuable gift you can give someone is your attention. With the explosion of Social Media and the countless ways Technology offers to us so we can be and stay connected to each other, the need for communication has never been more urgent. But being connected doesn’t mean we communicate, and the attention we’re paying to the people we care for maybe is not as much as it should be.
When it comes to relationships, we all agree that Communication is the key. Real and good communication is what makes a relationship healthy. And on the other hand, we need to communicate more with a person we feel emotionally attached to. But we tend to miss the basic elements of a good communication.
The FIRST element of good communication is attention. We must make the other person feel they got our full attention, and if for some reason we can’t give them our full attention, we must be straightforward and honestly apologize for that, making them understand we place importance on this. Having another person’s attention and feeling important to them is what every person craves for and is considered the primary motivation through life, and the most critical ingredient of “bonding”. To our mother we were the center of the world. That’s why our love for her is unquestionable. People who give us their full attention earn our friendship immediately.
The SECOND element of good communication is the art of listening. If we recall who our best friends are or have been, we’ll find all having the trait of being good listeners in common. Being a good listener, not in a passive but in an active way, is more than an acquired skill, it’s a form of high art. The active listener offers to the speaker a human-mirror to reflect his expressed thoughts or messages, re-evaluate them and even receive a sense of relief by just having let out a part of the “steam” accumulated inside.
The THIRD element of good communication is being genuine as opposed to being likeable. We think -and act upon this false belief- that we should create the best possible first , and following impressions to the person we communicate with. This “modus vivendi” is being applied to an extreme degree when it comes to more personal types of communication. The effort we put into becoming someone else, a persona more likeable to the other, is much more than the one required to become instantly acceptable just for who we are. Manifesting this directness to my communications, can’t remember how many times I’ve been told that they felt they knew me for years, just after 1 hour of communication. The Communication Frame offers space for our input, our opinion, and even our right to be wrong. Being right all the time, and everywhere would be deadly boring, not to mention, antisocial and counter-communicative.
The FOURTH element of good communication is recognizing the “thematic triggers” or “threads”. Maybe it sounds a nobrainer but most of the times we are so incurably self-absorbed that we refuse to see and recognize the thematic triggers to our partner’s interest. To gain his attention, we must establish a communication channel and to open the gates to this, we must speak the other person’s language, and build on topics that keep them alert and totally present. Sounds unethical but please reconsider this : by giving them what they want, you’ll get what you want too. Communication is a form of transaction on a psychological level. We make them feel important by paying attention to them and appreciating their input, while they make us feel important by responding and dedicating their time and attention solely to us.
The FIFTH element of good communication is humor. Life gives enough reasons for sadness to kick in. We should put all our energy working to the opposite direction. Smiling, laughing, being pleasant, joyful, funny and self-sarcastic, is the “salt” of quality communication, plus offers the unique psychological advantages of “codes”. The couple progressively creates a series of codes, which maybe words, topics, patterns, that they both have linked to particular emotions of enjoying communicating. Humor is never extended towards insulting the other person, unless there is a “special convention” between the two as to what is significant and what is just funny-talking.
The SIXTH element of good communication is emotion and compassion. Couldn’t leave emotion out of the most basic Communication Factors. Communicating is about being “in synch” with another person. Synchronization is the result of vibrational harmony and that means being in each other’s shoes. Sharing feelings and actually dividing other’s sadness by half or multiplying joy by two. Feelings openly shared give a taste of DIRECTNESS to the Communication.
The SEVENTH element of good communication is imagination. We are basically visual beings. Everything we hear or are being told gets a certain shape inside our brain. Eyes are the periscopes of the submarine brain is, while submerged inside a bonny structure… the skull. But even when eyes are closed, or staring at a fixed point, images flood our mind and this is what visualization is about. Good Communication stimulates a “slide-show” of images in our mind and one way or another this “slide-show” is directly referred and related to the person we communicate with. It is essential for a fulfilling relationship to enjoy a communication with frequent vivid “imaginative trips” in its repertoir. This element of qualitative communication degrades the necessity of physical proximity for two people to communicate effectively. Maybe here lies one of the answers to the issues related to long distance relationships. Quality Communication is about touching each other’s inner chords.
The EIGHTH element of good communication is positive attitude. Nobody wants to talk to a nagger, a pessimist, a negator. Even if your logic protests against ideas opinions or thoughts you are presented with, refrain from being negative, and try to see the good sides and say a good word about them. It’s not a matter of being polite and pleasant. It’s about making the other person happy with such a small and simple gesture. Remember, happiness is a commodity in scarcity today. Everybody seeks it, few actually find it inside themselves or with others. Offering a tiny “flash” of happiness to the person you communicate with, will make a major difference to them and will give you back a warm feeling of satisfaction. That is a form of happiness too.
The NINETH element of good communication is philosophizing instead of criticizing. Criticizing comes from our need to be proven right and feeds the monster of insecurity we guiltly keep inside us most times than not since our childhood. We have to have the last say. We have to put our signature on other’s life, idea, creation, opinion. We have to leave our touch. In a quest for reassurance, which basically emerges from our fear of being un-noticed, un-attended, un-important. Criticism is such a lonely and cheap act. On the contrary, Philosophizing – the Greek word for brainstorming, along with the truth-quest- gets more engaging and inviting when participants are two. Philosophizing adds value and quality to communication. Dialogues lead to conclusions, realizations, epiphanies and getting to know each other better. That’s pure magic. Discovering another person equals discovering a new universe.
The TENTH element of good communication is the “wave-style”. No matter if it takes place between business partners or love partners, there has to be a variety in topics, because we all are multifaceted personalities, and is hard to focus on the same topic for long. Alternatively, a “wave-like” sequence of topics, reinforces the value of communication on the most burning ones, because it gives chance for emotional breaks.