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Connecting with othersPosted by Tom algie Mon, February 08, 2016 00:10:37
Communicating with others is always difficult when it involves language. I often wonder that if the human race had not developed language, where we would be as a species? Language is very useful but can also lead to so much misunderstanding. Although we live in France, my French is still very poor and I sometimes find it frustrating that I cannot understand others or make myself understood. However, there are some upsides to this. Not speaking the language very well has made me pay more attention to what people say, how they say it and made me observe their body language more. I can then pay more attention to what I say, how I say it and what I say with my body too.

Gestures, particularly hand movements are fascinating to watch and openness is often shown by how people sit or stand, and their facial expressions. Other situational things (sights, sounds, smells) and objects can also influence someone's perception such as the positioning and colour of furniture in an unusually lit or shaped room. It's useful to think about all those things when you meet someone. The most likely influence on communication is people's previous experience of a similar situation.
We meet a new situation or person and believe we have met this before and we know how to deal with it. Without really listening, observing or treating this new situation with compassion, we interupt people and tell them what they "should do". Alternatively, we ignore what they actually say and tell them about a very similar experience we had and what we did. Responding in this way we are trying to be genuinely helpful but usually failing to provide the support they usually seek. They often want us to simply listen compassionately to them and acknowledge their feelings at this moment. When they feel they have been understood they are often then prepared to face the choices which will move them on to their next stage of development. In a similar way, if we want to grow and help ourselves we can acknowledge our own feelings and make our own choices. What do you think?

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Posted by Tom algie Mon, February 15, 2016 09:43:55

Hi DRM, thanks for you comment. I like your description of communication and agree about the importance of listening. When I listen I find it useful to bear in mind that my listening skills have been shaped by all my past experiences of communication. Are we listening because we want to understand or are we really listening for flaws so that we can prove "we" are right and "they" are wrong. Also, the use of particular words or phrases can trigger unhelpful emotional reactions if we are unaware of the conditioning of both parties through previous experience.
So, I agree that communication can be a great tool for sharing information and feelings. It also makes total sense to ask when you don't understand what someone says. The way of asking questions is a whole other skill which I am still working on. In my experience the same questions asked in slightly different ways with different tones often provoke very different responses. Ultimately, it may be that we are not capable, in this moment, of comprehending someone else's position, and I think that is OK too.

Posted by DRM Sun, February 14, 2016 09:35:32

Communication is, put simply, how we express our feelings and emotions to others, and interpret what we hear, see or read. Yes, as we become more proficient we develop nuances to help us convey what we mean, and understand what we hear; intuition can play a part in this too. But the essential part of communication is listening ~ and there are two tiers to this. Although surroundings and other periphery may play a part, the focus should be to take particular notice of what is being said; too often we pay only scant regard of what is being said whilst we build our reply. The second tier, to ensure we fully comprehend, is to make certain that what you heard is what was meant. In short, if in doubt ask; because if you didn't accurately understand the meaning how can you offer a reasoned response.