You can’t not communicate.
No, that double-negative isn’t a typo or clerical error. Rather, it is a very simple truth. Communication happens every moment of every minute of every day of our lives beyond the simple spoken word. Voice inflection, gestures, habits, they send volumes of information to the people around us. Even when we don’t mean to, we’re communicating with the world at large and broadcasting messages about ourselves to anyone paying the slightest attention.
Almost sounds like the premise of dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Somewhat of a frightening idea, I know; but strange as it may sound, it has its merits, too. Most of all, the merit of mindfulness.
I recently attended a communications seminar, and honestly it was nothing short of incredible just how much I took away with me at the end of the day. And this is coming from someone who has a degree in communications. It really is true – you never really stop learning, and that seems especially true in the workplace. One of the most prominent learning points I came back with was that of staying mindful of my messages. Communicating effectively isn’t just a good habit that one picks up – it’s a state of mind.
As I stated before, everything we do sends a message. The words we use, the inflections with which we deliver them, every subtle nuance of our body language, back-and-forth interactions with the people around us on a daily basis – it’s all just various forms of communication. I’m sure you’ve noticed it in your own everyday life around others; picking up signals, making judgements and perceptions on how to proceed with the interaction, more often than not recognizing almost inherently whether someone is open and willing for a social chat, or if it would be best to leave them alone until another time. And rest assured, they can usually tell the same of you. Communication is a two-way street, after all.
This being the case, the importance of keeping a mindful reign on our messages and our communication etiquette becomes all the more vital. An honest and heart-felt message doesn’t mean anything to the recipient when there is a perceived discrepancy between what we say and what we do. The solution to this danger? Mindfulness. Mindfulness of all our communication habits, not just our spoken words, but our habits, our etiquette, mannerisms. The very way in which we conduct ourselves in relation to the world around us. A mindful balance such as this in our everyday lives communicates a message in and of itself – that we are listening and observing. That we are taking the time to give others the respect they deserve. That we care. What could be a more powerful statement than that?
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” – Attributed to Theodore Roosevelt