In the 1960s, Paul Watzlawick proposed five axioms of communication, one of which is that we cannot not communicate. Our words, our tonality, our physiology all say something, which may include a desire to not communicate. And by not communicating, we are doing the very thing we don’t want to do; communicate.
As we are always communicating, it would make sense to communicate as effectively as possible, yet we are all aware of times when communication has been anything but effective. We’re misunderstood, we misspeak, we half-listen, we don’t listen, and at times, we simply listen for a gap so we can say what we want to say. Language is fluid, meanings change, and words fall in and out of fashion. One person's weird is another’s normal. How, in fact, do we manage to successfully communicate anything at all?
Much can be resolved by active listening. Really listening. Really working to understand what the other person wants to communicate. And by really listening, listening for understanding and understanding alone, we improve the communication. Which, in turn, helps us to build more effective relationships. And you know this already, don’t you?
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