Communicate to Connect.
Communication involves much more than words; it involves the entire body. The stance of the body, body language, gestures, tone, pitch, volume, eye contact and content are all elements of communication. Words are merely the tools one employs to do the work, however they are very powerful tools. I liken them to a power tool such as a power saw or drill. These tools need to be handled with care and are not to be flung around carelessly because we know they are dangerous and can cause much harm if not used with caution. Words too, flung around carelessly, can cause irreparable damage.
Imagine how irritating a power tool would be if it continued on and on long after its job had been done. It’s the same with words; unnecessary repetition, sometimes called nagging, is unproductive.
Five levels of communication have been identified.
Level #1: The Cliche Level. At this level we say something like, “How are you?” This level of communication does not wait for a response, nor does it expect one. If there is a response it’s usually something like, ” Yeah, good.” Even if you are feeling anything but good. Both parties realise that at this level there is no real invitation to communicate.
Level #2: We report facts. At this level we report facts to one another. We talk about the weather, sport, the news, the government, other people, although not always with the facts; this is known as gossip! As long as we don’t get close to exposing ourselves, or how we might feel about anything we can talk for quite a while at this level.
Level #3: We report the facts and mention how we feel about them. At this level we are starting to get warm! We can help facilitate the move from level 2 to level 3 by asking the speaker, “How do you feel about……..?” This question indicates that we are listening and have an interest in the person. Often people are led into understanding themselves better or finding a solution to a problem when they are encouraged to articulate their feelings.
Level #4: We begin to reveal ourselves. We talk about ideas rather than other people. We discuss our likes and dislikes, our plans, our goals and dreams.
Level #5: We are transparent to the other person; our mask is off! We reveal our true selves, we admit our deepest fears and confess our faults. We ask to be accepted and loved for nothing more and nothing less than who we truly are. We connect heart and soul.
It is a sad fact that many people, even those in close relationships, never get past the third level of communication. Communication demands much than words. It requires time, the mouth, eyes, body, mind, soul and heart. But mostly it requires the courage to say, “This is who I am and when I speak with you I will be honest enough to reveal some of my precious self to you.”
This is communication to connect.