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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Relational Exchange – What I Must Give You

Issues of relationships and communication seem perplexing and overwhelming to many. It’s easy to feel claustrophobic as we look someone in the eye, manufacture a smile, and pretend to know what they’re on about. Much of our own noise proves the barrier.

Situations like the above make more for curling up in bed than for rabble-rousing in social contexts.

Oftentimes even though we want to make a good fist of our communication, to demonstrate our love for this other person, we can feel incapable. Perhaps it’s more a case of understanding the dynamic we seek to create.

Effective Communication is Active Sacrifice

Communication is not passive; but when we enter it in this vein, without a lot of forethought, we’re quickly blindsided. It can feel like an ambush when we’re suddenly flailing in the midst of a conversation; our confidence taking a hammering.

It was probably because we were already preoccupied in thought, or protecting ourselves because we didn’t feel like relating, or because we just felt introspective. It doesn’t help us in the moment, however.

What will help, though, is knowing the importance of sacrifice in the moment.

It will help when we have the awareness, there and then, that the relational exchange is created as we manage something technical in our thinking. What we need to do right now, just for these seconds, is give of ourselves wholly to the other person; to watch their eyes, look for their body language, focus on the words and tone of their speech. Then we merely respond—nods, smiles, frowns as appropriate, gestures of confirmation etc.

As we actively give during these moments we set aside as much as possible what we are thinking and feeling, driving all our focus and energy into what’s going on for them. This way we retrieve self-confidence because any time other people feel heard they confirm it in positive ways back to us via non-verbal feedback.

Communication is Not a Gift, but Employed Technique

It’s funny the things we tell ourselves. We say, “I’m not a very good communicator,” or “I try to work on listening because I have no idea what to say.” Maybe we have little interest in communicating, but find the world demands it of us so we comply.

We can communicate effectively even when we don’t feel like it if we can give ourselves, mechanically, to the other person. This is not hard for a series of seconds, or separate blocks of minutes. (Even if we must communicate all day, there are constant opportunities to gain respite, by getting away from people, or getting moments where we can be alone with our thoughts—this is what we can look forward to.)

In the moment of reluctant communication, self-confidence is the key. When we don’t want to be there, the best thing we can do is deflect what we might truly feel, temporarily, rearranging our focus somewhat. This is merely a technique that can be employed making strained communications easier.

The good news is communication is more about technique than gift; we can be capable of good communication even when we don’t feel like it.

When we understand that communication is an exchange—something I can choose to give to you—we are in control. We see then, the motive to do it well is there already.

Even if we feel low we can communicate effectively if we need to.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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