All Behaviour is Communication
How many times have we told ourselves that we are not going to talk to someone after they had done something we are not happy about? How many times have we ignored someone just to teach them a lesson after they had done us wrong? How many times have we said “We are currently not in communication” after being asked how our relationship is going with someone we were once close with?
I imagine that a lot of us have experienced such, at least once in our lifetime. Yes, we have “cut communication” at some point with some people in our lives and simply see that as no communication at all. I mean, if we are not talking, staying in contact, that means we are not communicating, right? Well, I have news for you! It is communication. It might not be direct and clear, but it is communication. All behaviour is communication, even when “you are not communicating”, it is still communication.
Example: You and a friend have a really good relationship. However, one fateful day, you realise that your friend has betrayed you by divulging some of your personal information to someone else , which left you feeling angry and hurt. So, you decide that you are going to keep your distance from your friend and if you do decide to talk to them, you will choose how much information you disclose to them. To you, cutting that friend off might just feel like “we are no longer communicating at this moment”, but at that moment, what you do not realise is that your silence and/or distance is communicating “What you have done really hurt me and I cannot trust you. I am angry at you at the moment.” But only, to yourself and not your friend.
This kind of communication is indirect, it is not clear, which leaves a lot of room for assumptions and confusion for your friend, and perhaps, missing an opportunity for them to take responsibility for their actions. Nonetheless, it is still communication. It might not be verbal but behavioural at this point, but it is still communication. Communication involves sending and receiving messages or information, which can be in gestures, facial expressions, body posture, movement, tone of voice, etc.
How We learn To Communicate:
We all learn how to communicate from our environment, especially the people who are in immediate contact with us as we grow up and develop. In families, the manner in which the family communicate with one another, that is their ability to express intimacy and how they pass information back and forth, gives one understanding of how family members experience relationships with one another. When observing how one communicates and its impact on the other, it can give one an idea of what kind of communicator they are and if it is functional or dysfunctional.
This type of communication is ideal, and it exists when the communicator is clear and direct about their statement and/or requests. It happens when both the speaker and receiver can clarify and qualify what they are saying, and when feedback between the two communicators is possible.
This type of communication is not ideal, it exists when the communication is indirect, unclear and seldom clarified. The statements are usually incomplete, distorted, and/or inappropriately generalised.
5 Communication Stances/Types of Communicators:
As stated before, the communication stance one takes is learned from one’s direct environment (Example: in relationship with primary caregivers, parents, etc.)
The first four communication styles are considered to be unhealthy as they often minimise the self, the other and the context in which the communication is happening; while the last communication style is considered to be healthy and ideal as it acknowledges the self, the other and the context in which the communication is happening.
Reflect on This:
- What type of communicator are you?
- Who do you think might have modelled this way of communicating to you?
- Do you think that it is healthy/unhealthy to communicate in the way that you do?
- In what ways have you communicated in an unhealthy way? What were the long-term and short-term effects of that?
- In what ways can you try to communicate in healthier and consistent ways?
- In what areas of your life do you think you need to be congruent? How do you reckon you will go about doing that?
The manner in which we communicate with others can be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and/or others. Bear that in mind when you communicate.
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