Communication Matters!

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As the month of the archetypal Communicator winds down, I realize how absolutely central good, reciprocal communication is in life. What else is there, really? All of our lives we are in communication with others and internally. How well we communicate matters. How well we express and affirm who we are to one another, how well we listen, how much grace we give to one another… Matters.

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Matters of communication have consequences. From the largest to the most minute situation or transaction, how well we communicate depends upon and reveals qualities of our deepest nature. If we do not know ourselves deeply enough, as the spiritual beings that we are at our very core, we cannot communicate who we are to another except incompletely. If we are self-absorbed, do we really know who we are?  Withholding of honest, humble communication is a mode of violence and accompanies violence toward ourselves and others.

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I have a friend who has been like a sister to me for many years. Yet, she has become locked up in  anger and frustration toward life, so filled with what she regards as righteous opinions that she has forgotten what matters; she chooses not to communicate positively with those who do not hold her same political views. She isolates herself, which deepens her turmoil.

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Life itself I have come to realize requires healthy communication. Consciousness communicates with other aspects of itself through form, voice, action, and via silences. The cosmos itself is a macro-communication matrix that organizes micro-cosmic codes; a grand message constantly unfolding in myriad dimensions; what else?

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images are from pixabay.com

I welcome your Comments and Stories!

Your Communicator Ally

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Consider there is a part of yourself we can call your COMMUNICATOR, an archetypal aspect of your total Self identity. That means you have developed an “archetypal” mode of expression that you can draw upon unconsciously when you aim to communicate well. Of course, if your COMMUNICATOR part of self has been inhibited or is conflicted then this may actually interfere with your communicative style until or unless you recognize these issues and work through them to a condition of greater awareness or balance.

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Are there some situations in your life in which you rely on your inner COMMUNICATOR and in which you feel more—or, less—confident communicating? When does your COMMUNICATOR feel most competent? Least? What issues may be coming up for you with the latter?

To model addressing such questions, let me share here just a bit. I feel most comfortable “as” a communicator in a classroom or lecture type setting (pairing Communicator skills there with my dominant Teacher persona), or in the process of writing, or else in conversation with a close and trusted friend.  One of my best friends, Jan, really taught me HOW to communicate as a friend; she encourages me to be open about feelings and from her I have become a better listener, so this pairs COMMUNICATOR with my NOURISHER persona. When writing, I tap into  my spiritual or MYSTIC outlook.

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In all then, I find COMMUNICATOR is a versatile archetypal aspect that pairs well with several other facets of Self.

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I feel least comfortable communicating when I feel I may be judged or scrutinized. Then my Communicator turns inward, pairing with my reserved, Descender character. I have always felt Silence to be a valuable form of communication especially when used to be introspective or to refrain from talking inappropriately. Silence, in the right form, can be a generous, thoughtful act. Of course, it could also be used to withhold trust or honesty.

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It can be helpful to listen to your COMMUNICATOR if you are feeling restraint or fearful about self-expression. You can contemplate or journal to tune into your unconscious archetypal “Assembly” to see what your COMMUNICATOR may need. Sometimes It just needs to be heard!

I welcome your insights and stories!

Mindful Speech, and Silence

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Mindful listening means being truly and fully “in the Present,” attentive within the immediacy of a communication Moment; not thinking about what you will say next, not fixated on what was just said.

One basic, fun exercise that might help you to be more Mindful in the Moment is to give yourself the grace to experience five minutes (or more, but few can go this long) without using language, at all. That means: “Do not talk, do not think, for thinking is but talking in one’s head” (from “Zen and Now”, a 1970’s documentary). During this language free respite, if someone talks, do not decipher what they are saying. If you pass a written sign, do not focus on it or decode it. Quiet the mind even while you move through nature or your everyday environment.

I start an Introduction to Linguistics class every year with this 5 Minute assignment of not using language. Students tells me it allows them to understand language—the human condition to a large extent, yes?—in a new light.  What are you without language? You are more OPEN to the immediacy of the Moment.  When you Listen Mindfully, you can extend this exercise by aiming to clear your mind while the other person is speaking. Pause before you reply, allowing what you just heard to filter deeply through your consciousness. Allow that new input to be processed before you respond. I find that if I take the time to practice this degree of Mindfulness in a conversation, I and my interlocutor may be amazed and surprised at the creative directions our conversation…or its absence even…might take.

Which brings up another aspect of communication that we often overlook: Silence.  Silence is a big part of every conversation or communication, though we Anglo Americans anyway tend not to recognize or to use it as such. In many cultures, for example notably among the Quakers and Amish and among Apache and Navajo Native Americans, silence is a communicative form of expression, an art all its own. Quakers aim to speak sparingly and when they do speak, to be a vehicle only for the most humble expression of divine love and simplicity. Apaches and Navajos know when not to speak, allowing any potentially conflictual exchange to be mediated and tempered by silence. American Anglos tend to be overly talkative, seen from one of these other cultural perspectives. It is as if we feel a need to crowd the air with noise to avoid the embarrassment of too much silence between us. But what are we missing in the interstices? Try sharing a meal or an hour of pure silence with a loved one—no TV allowed!

Each culture has its own conventions about communication, and we learn these conventions by the time we are able to talk. These conventions help us to hold a conversation according to the norms of our community. We also develop patterns of communication within our family, at school, or at the workplace. You can see these patterns or constraints most clearly when you consciously “violate” a convention. Try driving up to a McDonald’s window, for instance, and ask for a spinach salad, or a medium rare prime rib dinner. That’s a mild example. There are rules, norms and conventions for communication—some call them discourse scripts—for just about any kind of situated talk. Who can speak how, to whom, under what circumstances, and to what effect, are basic questions that define the sociolinguistics of communication.

My point with these examples is this: if you want to achieve Better Endings in your communication overall, whether for writing or for genuinely improving a relationship, first aim to understand what you DO NOW, in order to decide what you would like to be doing. If you find yourself overly constrained or habitual in your communication style or in “rules” of communication you have grown up with, try changing those conventions, mindfully, with positive, conscious INTENTION.

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Changing a communication pattern, style, or convention reflects and can also establish a change in consciousness. Understanding and then changing a pattern of communication in a relationship can change that relationship, “for Good”!

I look forward to your Comments, Insights and Stories! As always, I wish for you Mindfulness, and Joy!