When it comes to communication, it is hard to know where to start.
There are lots of reasons why communication does or doesn’t work. Everyone communicates differently. For this reason, we all experience communication uniquely.
You might be thinking: Communication is easy. Everyone does it, I communicate all the time. You do indeed communicate all the time, and yes, everyone does it. We are always talking or listening or interpreting. But communication is not necessarily easy to do well. Everyone might need to make dinner, but not everyone is a skilled chef.
So why should we care about communication? One reason is that it is only through communication that we create new relationships. Communication is also how we make the most of the relationships we have.
The successes you have in life and how much you enjoy it comes down to relationships. Communication is all about relationships.
Communication is a fascinating, yet completely mundane process. We communicate with other people almost constantly. Our experience of communication is essentially unique but communication is simultaneously something we all do.
Communication is a deeper rabbit hole than people give it credit for.
Human Communication Peculiarities
Humans aren’t unique because we communicate. Bees, dogs, whales, and all animals communicate in some way. Bees dance. Whales bellow. Dogs, as any dog person can attest, communicate with ears, barks, and tail wags.
It’s not just animals that communicate. Fungi and trees transmit chemical messages via root networks. Other plants communicate with scents and others still via electric pulses. As a result of these messages, plants are alerted about predators, manufacture chemical defenses, or tell other parts of the plant to grow faster.
Every species communicates in its own way.
How humans communicate is unique. Our communication is symbolic. Symbols are things that stand for other things: words, language, and behaviors. Technology enables new types of connections.
Communicating — Not Easy And Taken-For-Granted
Despite being all around us — behavior we are always engaged in — we take communication for granted. Most people don’t give much thought to how they communicate. If they do, they ask themselves how they can be more clear, or how they quickly get their point across. These are the wrong questions. Communication doesn’t always lend itself to simplicity or speed.
Many wonder why their communication never seems to improve. This is because plenty of times, it seems like communication works. But this is deceiving. People routinely walk away from conversations with different interpretations and conclusions. Why does this happen?
It has to do with how we think about communication.
You hear a lot about “miscommunication” and “failed” communication, but communication never really fails.
People think communication is mostly about speaking, but it’s not. We don’t listen enough.
People think communication is about “sending messages,” but it’s about far more than just transmitting information.
People think ease and clarity is the most important part of communication, but that doesn’t mean it is. Just because communication is “easy” doesn’t mean it worked. Likewise, just because communication isn’t smooth, doesn’t mean it failed.
Communication problems are everywhere. But why? People know communication is important. We place a lot of emphasis on it. Communication gets a great deal of attention in many aspects of life — in relationships, on teams, and in business. Despite our insistence on good communication, people struggle with it. Why? And how to fix all this?
These are big questions.
So, What Then?
To get better at communication, cutting out false ideas about communication is a good starting point.
Communication — in all its shortcomings and with all its possibilities — has led to the current state of the world. Every success in every relationship — whether between lovers or diplomats – can be traced back to communication.
But when it comes to communicating better, there aren’t one-size-fits-all answers. Nobody can communicate for you.
Communication is how we create relationships in the world, and communicating better is how we can have better relationships.
If you want better relationships, communicate better.
Communication isn’t just a switch you can flip to solve your problems. Communicating better takes work and practice and dedication and pushing your own boundaries. The good news is there are paths for improvement.
I want to enable and empower you to communicate better in your own life. That’s where this newsletter comes in. It is all about helping you think about communication in a new way. I’ve designed it to help you improve your communication, and help you find answers to questions about communication you might not even know you had.
Some important themes of this newsletter include communication in relationships, skills — such as listening — barriers to communication, technology, and common communication misconceptions.
A beautiful thing about communication is its ongoingness. There is always a chance to try again, to have a new conversation, to ask a question in a different way. Every time we speak or listen, communication presents a new opportunity to make, or learn, or appreciate something.
That’s why communication matters.