I’m really passionate about communication, about how important it is and about finding tools to strengthen how we communicate in our communities. Technically a lot of what I do is specifically focused on communications. Sometimes it kind of feels like a vocation. On the good days it feels somewhat like a calling.
But communication isn’t something reserved for certain jobs or certain people, communication is something we all do and we do it all the time.
Everything is communication. Communication is everything.
The world is constantly communicating. We are exchanging information, feelings and meaning all the time. We use words… but we also use our facial expressions, gestures, body language and tone. We communicate through our actions, our presence and even our absence.
And communication is personal. To communicate effectively – to grow and move forward – requires a self-awareness and consciousness that often don’t realise. The required skills to communicate well are something we never stop developing and have to work to master throughout our lives.
Communication is always a two-way and complex process. We send and receive information from one another simultaneously. We speak, but we’ve also got to listen. What is vital is that during the exchange we develop a shared understanding of what is being said and heard by all involved.
The following quote is attributed to Epictetus, a Greek philosopher. Today, his words still say something important to us.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus
Listening is a powerful tool. I think that the more listening we do, the better off the world is.
Let’s be honest though. We know that communication is often far from easy.
This short TED Ed video provides a great summary about what is happening when we communicate with one another, why we sometimes don’t understand where someone else is coming from and looks at the impact of the perspective through which we see the world.
Come & See
Every year, the Pope writes a message for World Communications Day and in 2021 we will celebrate this day on May 16th. World Communications Day was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967 as an annual celebration. It encourages us to reflect on the opportunities and challenges that modern means of social communication (the press, film, radio, television and the internet) provide the Church to communicate the gospel message.
Pope Francis says “this year… I would like to devote this message to the invitation to “come and see,” which can serve as an inspiration for all communication that strives to be clear and honest.” He goes on to explain that the invitation to “come and see” was part of the “first moving encounters of Jesus with the disciples” and is also the “method for all authentic human communication.”
Pope Francis encourages us to ‘hit the streets’ and remember that nothing replaces seeing things first hand. He wants our communication to be person-to-person and heart-to-heart. Ultimately, Pope Francis is asking us to share “the compelling witness of people whose lives have been changed by their encounter with Jesus.”
Pope Francis leaves us with this;“for two millennia, a chain of such encounters has communicated the attractiveness of the Christian adventure. The challenge that awaits us, then, is to communicate by encountering people, where they are and as they are.”
I am encouraged by Pope Francis’ message and in the work that I do, I hope to strive to deliver communication that is clear and honest and I am motivated to work in a way that meets people where they and as they are. But this isn’t always easy. Finding ways to encounter people person-to-person over the last year has felt more challenging. In my experience, things feel increasingly disconnected as we still try to make sense of a pandemic world and all the uncertainty that comes with it.
Recently, I’ve learnt things about my personality that help me to understand how I personally communicate – both the strengths and weaknesses. I’ve always loved to write and tend to express myself much better when I’ve gathered my thoughts on paper first, rather than in the moment. And there are certain forms of communicating that I avoid wherever possible – #smalltalk!
I am continually becoming more aware of how my personality and my life experiences shape how I see the world. This understanding is helpful for me to consider when I am communicating with others.
You might like to consider too, how your own personality affects the perspective through which you see the world? What other influences might shape how you make sense of what people say and do?
When we are trying to communicate with others, acknowledging our own lenses and filters is really important. It’s also essential that we keep in mind the fact that every person we communicate with is also interpreting everything through their own filters.
In spite of the complexity, I am encouraged to continue to find ways to communicate that are clear and honest. I hope we can all find ways to acknowledge how we see the world, the fact that others see it differently but that ultimately we want to be able to meet one another where we are and as we are. I believe in what psychologist Rollo May says below and believe in the importance of community, understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. I hope we are able to take up the challenge to “come and see” and keep looking for ways to communicate the attractiveness of the Christian adventure.
“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” – Rollo May