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DEF: Communication is the process of passing info & understanding from one person to another – any behaviour that results in an exchange of meaning. Its the sum of all the things one person does when he wants to create understanding in the mind of another. It is a bridge of meaning. It involves a systematic and continuous process of telling, listening and understanding.
THERE are several ways to CATEGORIZE Communication (comm).
IF we are being appropriate – we will comm. differently in different situations. So – the way we verbally play while watching a game together is not how we behave in a religious setting. What we eventually confide in a good friend is much greater than what we let out at first. Things we tell our mate aren’t usually things we tell co-workers, & things we say at work may not be appropriate for our children to hear. (Posts: Relationship Continuum)
It’s sad that many of us say we yearn for emotional connection & yet adamantly push it away – spending our days chit-chatting about trivial or pointless topics. NOTE: Small talk is appropriate – from time to time – to keep things ‘light’, when with acquaintances, or with people we know have very little depth. It is not a substitute for meaningful conversation with ’emotional peers’, no matter their age or level of self-awareness.
Instead, all healthy relationships – whether private or public – are based on Emotional comm. (Also for the 4 Qs to Ask Yourself Every Day). And at the deepest level is the realm of Spiritual communion – with oneself, others, nature & Higher Power.
However, as powerful & precious as the Emotional & Spiritual levels are, they’re too intense & raw to sit in for too long at any one time.
1. If our tendency is to get heavy too fast – we need to learn boundaries – with out Inner Child! It’s not appropriate to assume someone is ‘friend’ & jump into telling our deepest feelings – almost always our S-H & dysfunctional family history.
2. In general, many people are simply not equipped emotionally to go ‘deep’ at all, & it’s not fair to spring such comm. on someone without their consent, or on those we know can’t handle it. (from C. Gilkey)
3. Small Talk : ACoAs are notoriously reluctant (refusing) to make light conversation – sharing mutually interesting but not earth-shattering experiences tastes & opinions. This is a mistake – there is a time & place for the ‘heavy’ stuff. Seeing things light in many situations makes us much more approachable & likable!
We need to learn that we are in fact fundamentally like everyone else – we share the same needs & desires, & even many times similar experiences. It counteract our suspicion & isolation.
We also need a break from our own emotional intensity, which will help to balance us. And we may even learn something new!
1. Re. CONTENT
TEA: The greater the need to express (A) our inner-most opinions (T) & emotions (E), the more we risk – being misunderstood, ridiculed or rejected – the harder it is to do.
To minimize such risks, it’s imperative to move through the levels slowly, in the right order & one at a time, starting with the least personal (phatic), rather than trying to jump from Level 1 to 5 overnight – as ACoAs tend to do!
✳️ The normal, socially acceptable way to interact is for participants to match levels, so most people expect others will reciprocate from the same ‘intensity’. Sharing our most personal ideas & feelings should be reserved for those we’ve known well for some time & trust – a function of attention, confidence, commitment, experience & time
So if anyone starts out comm. at level 4 or 5, you may have a knee-jerk tendency to match it, sharing too much in return. This is not wise, since the other person is over-disclosing (& then so are you), which suggest they have weak boundaries & are trying to symbiose, i.e. not mentally/ emotionally ‘safe’. To comm. this way is pseudo-intimacy, & can’t form a healthy bond.
CHART below mirrors degrees of intimacy (Relationship Stages)
1. CLICHÉ LEVEL – is freely given to everyone. It’s Polite Conversation, that helps put people at ease or just passes the time.
The shallowest & least risky (“nice weather, pass the sauce…”)
2. REPORT FACTS about OTHERS – re. info & events, said to people we’ve met more than a few times. It’s sharing about what someone else has said or done (“Fred bought a new car…”)
4. Share FEELINGS or EMOTIONS to a trusted few, revealing what’s under our ideas & judgements (#3), telling how we feel about PPT (“I was so happy when…..”)
5. UNGUARDED FREEDOM to be COMPLETELY HONEST with another. We can legitimately self-disclose to 1 other or in a safe group, & they reciprocate. We share our deepest dreams, fears hopes & emotions, because the risk factor is no longer an issue. Each side have proven to be available & caring & reliable, so it’s OK to trust. (“My deepest secret is….”) From John Powell
NEXT: Comm. Categories #2