You cannot not communicate. We are always communicating, at least nonverbally, and words are often the least important part (Albert Mehrabian said about 7% of the communication). A sign, a smile, and a look are all communications (About 55% according to Mehrabrian). Even though our thoughts are communications with ourselves, and they are revealed to others through our eyes, voice tones(38%), postures, and body movements.
The experience of being human requires us to make meaning out of everything. Communication is always happening. It is never not happening. All words, all behavior, communicate something. You cannot stop communicating.
Understanding another’s communication is the basis for everything in our world occurring or not. It is the reason why things work or not, why people are inspired or not. Your words are powerful beyond measure – not because of the meaning you associate with those words, but the meaning that others around you, listening to your words associate with those words. You communication has the power to build people up and tear people down.
My mother used to say the words “we’ll see.” She used this sentiment most commonly with things she didn’t believe were going to take place. Although the two little words mean nothing and have no expressly negative or positive connotation to them alone, I can hear the intonation quite distinctly a clearly from her. Even when I read these words to myself they are about casting doubt and non-belief.
When I as graduating from anything, high school or university, I would be standing in my cap and gown before the service and she would ask if I was going to get something. I would reply “yes” as if the wind was knocked out of me for her thinking I would create such an elaborate rouse. She would then reply in her doubting voice “Well, I guess we’ll see.”
It took me four graduations to get it right. I realized the work I did was for me, not her. And, the graduation was about me and my accomplishments, not her, and her doubt. And, on my fourth graduation day for my Master’s degree, I didn’t invite her.
Now, if she was responsible for the results of her communication then she probably wouldn’t have been hurt by this action. But she wasn’t. And that’s how we live our lives – expecting others to be responsible for how their communication lands but not being responsible ourselves for how our communication lands on others. This presupposition alone, in my opinion would build up so many people and improve so many relationships.
Tracy Joy is an NLP practitioner, author, and speaker in Vancouver, Canada. She is an international business expert in the area of human systems analysis and thinking change. If you have brain questions, send them Tracy and she’ll answer them on this blog. She can be reached through www.TherapeuticNLP.com