Surprising as it seems, there is much more to communication than simply speaking – the transmission of the message. There’s the receipt of the message and the commensurate quota of accuracy, give or take, all to be taken into account. There are so many barriers to good communication.
There are two opportunities in communication: firstly, there is the opportunity to transmit, to receive, and to ensure there is understanding. Secondly, there is the opportunity for choice.
It seems that if we boil our communication down to these two goals – ensuring there is understanding and space for choice – and these two alone, we will have our communication rightly aligned, rightly motivated, and oriented for success. We will actually achieve the communication we set out to communicate.
But then it comes down to the format of the communication.
Conversation is always the superior way, though so many communications these days are done over email, phone, and social media.
It’s okay if the issues being communicated are transactional – merely sound bytes of data from one person to another, group to group, or other mix of entities.
But as soon as the communication needs to enter the transformational, and there are nuances and feelings and thoughts to be communicated, conversation (real conversation) has no equal.
When it comes to quality communication, there is no substitute for real conversation. It really becomes an imperative.
When conversation is entered into to the point that the opportunity for understanding is elucidated – where two minds become of one accord to the information discussed, though not necessarily do they agree – there is the second opportunity: to create choice, which is empowering.
When it comes to creating a shared understanding, transactional communication won’t get us all the way there; we will need a conversation, which takes us into the realm of picking up the nuances.
The conversation is a transformational encounter between two people, where one or both can grow. Indeed, through the transformational encounter understanding is likely and the choices are made clearer and more concise. Most human relationships are benefited by such raw commitment of two (or at least one) to actively connect.
Therapeutic conversation is the art form that requires one to facilitate meaning for the other. Once understanding is achieved there is the opportunity for choice. We cannot produce either understanding or consideration of the choices through communication, unless it’s via conversation.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to David Michie, counsellor and pastoral supervisor.