Funny thing about communication is everyone is talking about it but no-one is really doing it. Want to learn about communication, better ways to communicate, how to communicate with your spouse, how to communicate with your child, how to communicate at work, how to communicate your feelings you can easily walk into any bookstore and find 100’s of books surrounding the topic of communication. Don’t feel like stepping foot in a bookstore enter communication into the magic google bar and be ready to be overwhelmed with 1000’s of results on the topic. To lazy to type then push that magic button and ask siri and she will have tons of wisdom for you. If you rather talk to a real person, ask the person next to you about communication and they will have a wealth of information for you. You get it. Basically, information on communication is everywhere and everyone is talking about it, even me! However, many of these people aren’t doing it. It’s cliche, I know, however it’s time that we start communicating. Not just any kind of communicating but TLC.
What does the word communication mean? If we look at it’s latin roots, according to dictionary.com communicate comes from the latin word communicatus which means to impart or communicare impart or inform. However, like many things over the years, decades, and centuries the definition changed. Today communicate can be defined; according to merriam-webster.com, to get someone to understand your thoughts and feelings. Hence, this is what communication looks like for many Awww, this explains so much. Let’s begin, shall we?
Many people communicate with the intentions to get the other person to understand their thoughts or perhaps to try and sway or change another’s persons thoughts. There are many books that will even proclaim they can teach you how to do just this type of communication. Here is the problem with this type of communication, you aren’t communicating. Convincing possibly, swaying maybe, judging plausibly, debating probably. The issue with this definition and style of communicating is you aren’t simply informing but you are trying to get the other person to sway or understand your side.
If we stick to the basic definition of communicate, to inform, we can change the entire way we communicate. Inform is to simply give knowledge. What the person does with it, doesn’t really matter to you. Thus the saying agree to disagree. The type of Communicating I want to discuss consist of Talking, Listening, and Connecting. Yep, taken from my beautiful initials TLC. I base the principles of my therapy and coaching around this form of communication. Today I am going to break it down for you.
Talking – to communicate exchange ideas through speaking (Dictionary.com)
In order to properly communicate you must actually speak to the person. What I can’t send a text? Nope, you have to open your mouth and allow the beautiful sounds and words come out of your mouth. Let me pause for a second, and discuss this whole idea of communicating via text.
There is a time and place for communicating via text. Want to send a quick message, sure you can text that person. Already have a strong foundation of communicating, understanding, and a secure attachment, then sure you can communicate some things via text. The problem with texting as a foundation of communication is; I can’t hear your expressions and I can’t see your face. I can, however, misread and misinterpret your words that I am reading. Think about it, when we read a book, we all read the characters voice in different ways, we interpret certain things differently, we allow our imaginations to run free this is the beauty of reading. So, what makes reading a text any different. If I don’t have a strong foundation and secure attachment to you, then chances are I am going to misinterpret your text every single time. You text K, I read they are mad, they don’t want to talk to me, they are busy, they don’t care, and so on and so on. When in reality, you simply meant OK. Nothing more nothing less. You text, hey, how are you. They read, they really like me, they were thinking about me, this is going to be My future spouse, they are feeling me. When in reality, you simply wanted to say hi. You get the idea. Without the ability to look you in face or hear the expressions in your voice, I don’t really know what you mean. What this type of communication leads to is the new age communication debating. Trying to convince the other person of something, usually what you meant by the text and/or what they read.
Ok, hit play.
When you talk to someone you are telling them all about yourself, you are sharing your views of the world with them, they are learning how your mind works. Talking, when done properly, is a way of sharing your inner thoughts, your soul.
How do we effectively talk? The idea of talking is to converse without expectations. It’s a moment when you can allow yourself the freedom of expression without judgement. (we will get to that in a moment) I ask each of my couples to spend 15 min each day talking. I usually give the stipulation of not discussing kids, money, or work. Why do I give such a stipulation? Because this type of talking isn’t soul connecting. Many times people will have filler type conversations. You know the kind of conversations you have with someone while waiting in line or with the grocery cashier. You aren’t exactly bearing your soul to these people. Well, some of you may. I call this type of talking filler talk because you are simply filling space and time. You aren’t interested in really talking or listening to the person and you surely aren’t trying to connect with them. When I take out these 3 topics, many couples say, “what the heck will we talk about then Tanyell?” How about yourself, each other, your relationship, your dreams, your sorrows, and the list goes on. What many people fail to realize is that we are forever changing. Yes, you hear all the time. I am who I am, I can’t change them, I haven’t changed, and blah blah blah. If we didn’t evolve and grow, we would die. We would cease to exist as a species. If you haven’t changed since you were 20…. you get the gist. By constantly talking to each other, we are constantly connecting and learning.
Listening- to give attention with the ear. (dictionary.com)
Can you see how texting in the context of TL C communication isn’t effective. If you are communicating via text, you are reading with the eye, not listening with the ear. I won’t pause again to lecture on texting. Listening is an important part of communication, in fact I would say it is probably the most valuable part. When we listen to a person, we are simply hearing the information they are giving. We aren’t waiting to reply, rebuttal, report, refute, review, restate, or any other r word that I can’t think of right now! Wait, I have another one, respond. (I humor myself) We are simply listening. When we truly listen to a person speaking, we are able to hear their soul. A person who is being listened to doesn’t feel the need to convince the other person to see things their way. They feel heard and when they feel heard they feel secure enough to talk. See what I did there? (insert emoji wink) Missed it? Ok, let me break it down. In order for a person to feel secure enough to talk to you they must feel that you are listening. This is why filler conversations will take place in lines, because honestly, who feels secure enough to actually talk to the person in line with them. (yes, I put a period. That wasn’t a question. (inert emoji side eye))
How do you know you are listening? When you are listening to a person, they don’t feel the need to change their communication style to convince. In order to listen effectively, you have to hear the person without judgement. A lot of times, when we are listening to a person talk, we are judging. Listening for certain words and key words. Listening with an intent to respond. When you are listening in the context of TLC, you are hearing the person. There aren’t any distractions. This means no cellphones, no tv, no video games, no cleaning, no chores, no computer, and definitely no kids. (the ultimate distraction) You are focused whole heartedly on the person speaking. Giving eye contact. Asking non judgmental or accusatory questions. Really hearing the expression in their voice. It isn’t about you. Ok, I am going to attempt to give an example of this, but remember reading vs listening is different. Here it goes!
P, "How was your day?"
J, Breathes hard, "Long."
P, "Wow, it sounds like it. Anything happen in particular today?"
J, "Not really, I had a report due today, and it wasn't quite right. So, I had to reconfigure some things and it just consumed my entire day."
P, "Awe, Sounds like you spent your entire day redoing work that felt like you already did. That seems like it could be frustrating."
J, "extremely frustrating!"
P, "I'm sorry. Do you want to talk about it?" and the band played on
What would usually happen in this conversation is A. P would ask how was your day. J would respond with long. P would get irritated with the short response because they missed the exasperated breath J took and the look of exhaust on their face. or B. P would begin an interrogating round of questions because P has an interior motive of trying to figure out why J didn’t answer their phone or text earlier. See the difference? In order to effectively listen, you have to be selfless. This part of the TLC isn’t about you, it’s about the speaker. You had your chance or your chance to talk is coming. It’s their chance. When you remove yourself from listening, you are able to effectively listen to the person talking. And you will be able to officially hear what it is they are trying to inform you about. This leads us to the final and most beautiful part.
Connecting- To join, link, or fasten together. Unite or bind latin- tie (dictionary.com)
Feeling connected to someone is one of the most important human needs. Connection comes in many different forms for humans. There is emotional connection, physical connection, mental connection, spiritual connection, sexual connection. Communication can provide all these types of connections. When you Talk to someone and Listen to someone, it ties you together, it unites you. You feel a connection to them. When a person opens their soul to you, and you receive it, an exchange happens that allows you to connect to the person on a deeper level. Keep in mind this is a double lane road, it isn’t a one way street. This is the difference in a relationship, say with a, therapist. Sometimes a person will begin to feel a connection with their therapist, but that connection can’t be solidified or deepened unless the therapist crosses boundaries and begins to talk to the client. Without both persons being active participants in the T and L, you can’t have the C. How will I know I am connected? Because you will feel it… ok, ok, ok…. I will give detailed answer. You will know you are connected because you will feel secure. You will be ok with a text message that reads K. You will be ok with those short conversations via text. You won’t feel rejected when your phone call isn’t immediately answered. You won’t get defensive when your talking and they are informing. You will feel secure, safe, satisfied. The feeling of connectedness is individual. We can’t tell a person when she or he feels connected, but we can see it. Actions are different when people feel connected. The entire purpose of communication is to become connected. You communicate to inform to connect. Communicate is equal to connect. Definition numero 2 of connect, according to dictionary.com, is to establish communication between. I want to connect with you, I want to communicate with you. You can’t have connection with communication and you can’t communicate without connecting. They are joined at the hip.
Finishing it up…..
I saw a funny post the other day.
Whoever wife calls first, pays the bill.
The thing about this post is the husband who wins, probably, gives TLC to his spouse. They have a secure attachment to one another. More than likely he has already effectively communicated with his wife and she doesn’t feel the urge to call him, text him, dm him, FaceTime him, snapchat him, message him, or whatever else she could possibly do via phone. The wife who calls first, unless of course there is an emergency, more than likely is lacking TLC. So you see, you can’t define connectedness, but you can see it. It shows up in actions. More than likely the moment the rules where stated, the husband with the best communication skills, cheated, and informed his wife about the game! No? Ok, I guess we are the only ones that would cheat…. (insert embarrassed emoji)
This post inspired this blog. I see the couple who lost in my office and I hear the partner exasperation when they say to me, “I called and text him all night and he didn’t answer!! His excuse, he was playing some dumb a@$ game! A game was more important than calling me or answering my calls?!” I hear the defeat/confusion in his voice when he says, “I didn’t know this was going to cause ww1. It was just a game, it wasn’t that serious. They knew I was out, where I was, I don’t understand. I was only gone for a couple of hours.” This is the result of lack of TLC. Rather than the husbands laugh, high five, and poke fun at the husbands who lost and got a phone call, they should be turning to the husband who didn’t get a phone call, and asking them about communication.