Dangerous Compassions

what communication is

fat person wearing a black tank top smiles and looks up

Hello, how are you, reader?  So much, I’m thinking about community lately.  Ming and I are learning a lot in our home.  We had a zoom dinner with a prospective new housemate, and he asked about how conflict is handled in the house.  It brought up a lot of feelings for me, and I’ve been thinking about what communication is.

You might already know I have a lot of feelings about non-violent communication.  The more time passes, the more I think NVC is deceptive–a way for people who avoid intimacy and can’t connect to pretend that they’re emotionally available.  It’s a way to package distance as caring, and convince people there’s something inside relationship-wise that doesn’t actually exist.  I’ve been the victim of it, and I don’t find it neutral.  I find it harmful and unfair.

Ming and I were talking about communication, not just NVC, and he said people communicate to get others to do what they want.  Effective communication = if it worked to get the other person to do what you wanted them to.

He said people get frustrated with communication because they find it pointless.  You can have a conversation about behaviors, feelings, what hurts.  But people mostly don’t change and won’t do anything different.  So there’s no point to do something vulnerable and risk more exposure.  Communication is just spinning your wheels.

I was like–no.  That’s not what communication is.  No way in hell.

what communication is actually
  1. Sharing truth to someone who can receive it–both people show up attentive, ready to speak and to hear.
  2. Connective, direct, clear, real.
  3. With low expectation–not a demand or a threat.  Deep sharing without the interference of a push for a specific result.
  4. Honest and vulnerable.
  5. An end in itself.
  6. Sacred and holy.
  7. A gift.
  8. A great way to learn.
  9. Caring, even if the content is disturbing or harsh.
  10. An act of transmission, like initiation passes a flame that was lit a long time ago.
  11. Human thing to do.
  12. Respectful–mutually giving the other person credit that they can hear you and deserve to know.
how to communicate

NVC has set formats and approved feeling words.  I don’t want to say the whole thing is rotten–some parts of it can be valuable.  I haven’t studied it a lot, but Ming has.

From my own experience, these are ways I know to communicate.

  1. Search your own soul to know your own truth.  Find a deep truth, but know it can change.
  2. Figure out your goal.  Would you like to be understood?  Find common ground?  Tell a truth you’ve been hiding?  Offer support or a different way of doing things?  Ask for help?  Make a difficult overdue observation?  Some combination is fine.
  3. Ask for an appointment to talk in person, write a letter, or make an art piece maybe?  Whatever works.
  4. Get grounded through movement, prayer, breathing, meditation.
  5. Have an overall message you need to share, but stay flexible if it comes our in a new way during the conversation.  Maybe something is alive in the moment that you couldn’t predict.
  6. View the other person with compassion and love.
  7. Take in what the other person says.  Verify you understood.
  8. Then spend time alone, bringing that further inside you, to see how it fits with what you already knew.  What are you going to do with this new information?

I like many forms of communication.  People talk crap about email or txting.  I think they all have their place.  If it doesn’t work for you, don’t blame the medium.

I loved someone very much who hated email, while I found it much easier to communicate in writing.  She had more power, so she won.  It was easier for her to dominate people over the phone or in person.  Again, she was not communicating.  She was getting her way at the expense of everyone around her.

Words in sentences in person with eye contact, touch, and singing are some forms of communication that I favor.  What do you like, reader?  Some people might communicate through food.  Yes, a lot of love can be expressed through food.  How about body language and gestures?

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

4 replies on “what communication is”

I appreciate both Ming and your analyses!

NVC has also rubbed me as akin to social roberts rules. But i also know I am super under experienced

A great joy for me was getting old enough to get out into the world and make comparisons between my origin household and other peoples’. Huge differences in communication styles. I was 15 before I witnessed someone taking their time to answer a question. In my home, conversations were like table-tennis on speed. That was 50 years ago and the discoveries keep coming. I love it.

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