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I've always considered communication to be one of the gems in human abilities.  In truth, it may often appear to be a very rough and unpolished stone, while for some other individuals and instances it is a precisely-cut, elegantly faceted brilliance.  Although the majority of us often strive for the latter, the former happens to us with frequency.  

Let's face it, good communication is a prize.  When articulated well, even if agreement is not achieved, some sense of understanding may still be accomplished by the effort of communication.  Great movements have been fired and inspired by great speeches.  Hostile and dangerous situations have been defused by skilled communication geared to bring the participants back from the brink.  Effective advertising, therapy, diplomacy, and a host of other endeavors we are exposed to are based on good communication skills.  We all engage in communication throughout our daily lives, with our friends, family, co-workers, the cashier at the grocery store, ad infinitum.  

Although communication is such a vital mainstay in our lives, the majority of us don't engage  in much thought about it.  We just do it.  Well, I'm of the school that believes that may not be the best way to go about it.  For me, I realize that many of the conflicts that I have been engaged in throughout my life arose from less than sterling communication at the outset.  Being human, sure, I'm prone to speak first and think later; therefore, there are some things I try to remember.

First, if I'm in the mood to expel unfiltered, stream of thought, or the equivilent of verbal vomitus, a journal is the perfect medium.  Other than that, there is a receiver to my communication and, most probably, that receiver is another person with thoughts, feelings, sensitivities and needs of their own.  The moment another person is involved, I now have an obligation to consider them unless my goal is to risk having this communication devolve into a non-productive conflict.  I try to remember before speaking (or typing,) what my purpose is with this communication.  If my desired result is merely to unleash my frustrations, off to my trusty journal I shall go.  However, the overwhelming majority of the time, my goal in communicating means I have to engage with another person, so what follows pertains to that.

I try to remember to stop and think before communicating.  What point am I really trying to convey?  Who is my audience?  How would I feel as the receiver of this gem?  Am I willing to actually hear the receiver's response to my point?  

I try to remember that my receiver's response will be calibrated not by what I say, but by how I say it.  If I wield the equivilent of a verbal club, my receiver will respond in kind, most likely. When my point is framed offensively, it's an almost certain thing that my receiver will take the defensive manuver of verbal attack.   If my communication is fair and measured, there is a high probability that my receiver will address me in a similar fashion.  

I try to remember to set aside absolutes.  "Never" and "always" were not intended to further a discussion, but rather make the receiver feel as if a door has been closed in their face.  They are also very hard to defend, as typically someone can find an exception to nearly everything.  

I try to remember to separate fact from opinion.  Just because I believe it, feel it emphatically, well, that does not make it a fact, it is still my opinion.  When I confuse the two, I am in danger of risking my credibility and diminishing my receiver's right to form and hold their own opinion.

I try to remember that my receiver is a living, breathing, feeling, human being.  This leaves no room for personal attacks, which are destructive.  Communication should be constructive.  Besides, if my point is so weak that I must inflict harm on someone else to make it "valid," I need to rethink its value.  

I try to remember to step into the shoes of my receiver.  This reminds me to debate policy and fact, aids in avoiding personal attacks, and urges me to stop and think "how would I feel if that were said to me?"  If I would feel hurt or defensive, I need to find a better way to phrase it. Once a receiver is put on the defensive, communication is basically at an end.  It is important to me to remember that one can be kind and thoughtful, and still speak the truth.  

I try to remember that it is perfectly acceptable to agree to disagree.  If I cannot convince someone with measured logic and respectful tones, then I cannot convince them.  Since my receiver is a thinking, breathing, feeling, intelligent person, at some point I must just accept that they are capable of pondering through to their own conclusions.

I try to remember that my receiver's feelings and beliefs are just as important to them as mine are to me.  No one is superior here.  We are each entitled to our beliefs and feelings, which are typically a complex summation of our life experiences.  To belittle them is to belittle the person that holds them.  Making my receiver feel badly about themself does not make my point valid.  

I try to remember that there are some people that find the verbal "drawing of blood" to be entertaining or derive a sense of self-esteem from it.  For those rare few, I can learn to disengage and peacefully move away from the conflict.  Just because they desire it does not mean I have to be a party to something I find destructive.  Nor do I have to be insulting in my manner of disengagement, which would only lend itself to furthering that destructive end.

Most importantly, I try to remember that as part of the communication process, I too must be a receiver.  I must actively listen.  Everyone wants to be heard.  Talking at someone is not constructive and is a pitfall easily slipped into, particularly when impassioned by the topic.  

Yes, it takes a sometimes inconvenient moment to stop and think before communication and, being imperfectly human, I can be impatient and fail at my best intentions.  The results in those instances are not always attractive.  It's a habit I'm spending my life learning and an on-going work in process.  I think it is worth the effort.

I mean, really, there is so much hurt in the world I cannot do anything about, but what I can control, what I can own, is the message I impart to others.  If that message is delivered in a hurtful way, I own that too.  

Originally posted to RoCali on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good stuff... (9+ / 0-)

    I try and remember many of these points as well. The number of times I've thought 'jeesh, did I really need to post that?' suggests I need to try harder :~)

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:12:57 AM PDT

  •  Hmph (7+ / 0-)

    You are a better person than me, then.  Will try harder.

    •  None of us are perfect. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, amk for obama

      We all get impatient.  For me though, it is very important to always try and remember the other person's feelings.  When I fail to do that, I let us both down.  I want to be considered as a person, I can do no less for others.

      You are my brother, my sister.

      by RoCali on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:21:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful Diary. I Think I Am Going To (4+ / 0-)

    send a few of my clients to it. I worked at ad agencies for almost two decades and everything you outline is how good copy is written.

    I know do web sites for a living and I beg my clients to follow many of the things you outline when they write copy for their sites, and they never do.

    If you are interested in this topic, and it seems you are :). Maybe I suggest picking up a used copy of Seth Godin's book All Marketers are Liars, or just bookmarking his blog.

    He often rants that people that write copy don't tell stories. He explains that people like stories and not bullet points. There is a reason before we could master fire and lived in caves, they told stories by painting a successful hunt on the walls of said cave.

    It is in our DNA that we like to be told stories.

    Heck if you read a lot of my Diaries here I almost always tell a personal story to help make the larger point of my Diary.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:22:09 AM PDT

    •  Oh, thank you. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, amk for obama

      I will be sure to read that.  I am very interested in the broad topic of communication.  I think it is a critical element in our lives that we don't give sufficient thought to.  One book I enjoyed and found helpful was Constructive Argument by D. Infante.  

      You are my brother, my sister.

      by RoCali on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:26:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just Another Thought (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoCali, amk for obama

    You wrote:

    First, if I'm in the mood to expel unfiltered, stream of thought, or the equivilent of verbal vomitus, a journal is the perfect medium.  Other than that, there is a receiver to my communication and, most probably, that receiver is another person with thoughts, feelings, sensitivities and needs of their own.

    I think everything you wrote is accurate. At some level I think you could encompassed it all in one simple phrase, "know and respect your target audience."

    But with that said I would agree Daily Kos isn't a place for verbal vomit, stream of conscience writing. However, that is how I often write. Then I EDIT. Edit, edit, edit.

    Now all of our minds work in different ways.

    I write a lot of technical documents. White paper and such. I find I can spend hours on a page or even a paragraph. Trying to get every word just right. Not productive.

    I find my best writing is when I just write. Typing as fast as the words come to me, which is around 100 words a minute.

    Then I edit. Most if not all of the time the end result is far better.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:30:50 AM PDT

    •  When I am performing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      webranding, amk for obama

      legal, technical writing, it is an almost surgical analysis of each word within the larger structure.  Very lengthy process, indeed.  I will try that other approach  on my next diary.  Appreciate the tip.  

      You are my brother, my sister.

      by RoCali on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:39:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let Me Explain My Process (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RoCali, se portland

        First off I write a one page, Creative Input Summary. In it I outlined my target audience. The product I am talking about. The single most compelling message I want to convey, and points that support that message. Then mandatory items that need to be included. It has to be only one page to help me focus. Often it takes many hours to complete.

        Next I move to an outline. As much of a computer geek as I am, and I've tried just about every program out there, I find a good old fashion legal pad and mechanical pencil work the best.

        I outline what I will write then walk away from that outline for hours if not a day and do it again. Often again.

        As I mentioned our minds all work in different manners. My tends to run 100 miles an hour.

        So when I start to write I just write. Cause if I pour over every word at the start, I never get anywhere.

        Then I walk away from what I've written for another day.

        Then edit, edit, edit. In fact I usually use somebody else to edit my work. A lady I've worked with for a long time. She has learned my writing style, and plays off of me well, cause often what I write she doesn't understand.

        So if she understands the topic by reading what I've written, half the battle has been won.

        When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

        by webranding on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:47:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          webranding

          I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to lay that out.  Very considerate.  

          How lovely that you found a co-worker that compliments your working style so well.  

          You are my brother, my sister.

          by RoCali on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:55:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It Was Simple, I Write That Each (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RoCali

            week in one format or another for my clients.

            I am a better editor than a writer. I often tell clients I know good copy when I see it, but that doesn't mean I can write it.

            And a good copywriter can easily charge more than $200/hour. I mean you get what you pay for. My clients often don't want to pay for that and write the copy themselves.

            Usually it is a train wreck.

            So I tell them this so they focus. Try at least some process. Some thought involved, like thinking about their target audience. What single message they want to convey.

            Just the basics.

            When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

            by webranding on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 11:01:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I, I, I... (4+ / 0-)

    It is all about you isn't it RoCall? How dare you lecture us on communication. It is NEVER a good idea you cold blooded snake. I really don't care about your views. It is just all I, I, I. What you say me and you take this outside mono a mono, if you think you are man enough.

    About the ONLY thing you got right is not to criticize someone before you have walked a mile in his shoes. Because by then, you are a mile away and you have their shoes.


    [Yes this is snark. I tried to break all the rules, but I am sure I missed a couple, and for that I apologize.]

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 10:46:12 AM PDT

  •  What a lovely and candid post. This part (5+ / 0-)

    "I try to remember to separate fact from opinion.  Just because I believe it, feel it emphatically, well, that does not make it a fact, it is still my opinion.  When I confuse the two, I am in danger of risking my credibility and diminishing my receiver's right to form and hold their own opinion." really resonated with me.  Well done!

  •  Excellent. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoCali, sberel

    (Eat that, silent Cal).

    One bitter fact is two bit hacks populate the third rate fourth estate who are truly the fifth columnists. So, how did Obama piss you off today ?
    Call the media when they Lie

    by amk for obama on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 12:01:56 PM PDT

  •  Is it true? Is it kind? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoCali

    Is it necessary?

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Sat Jul 16, 2011 at 02:21:58 PM PDT

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