What’s Really Behind All Communication

Today’s post is a shameless plug for the study of communication…or better yet it’s full of good reasons to stay friendly with your local communication expert.

Knowing the principles of communication enables you share your meaning effectively. We all communicate, through language and a multitude of nonverbal signals, our thoughts, feelings, and ideas. While good communication does not guarantee a successful relationship with everyone you meet, all good relationships function through effective communication.

And as I love to remind my students, everything that comes to you in this life, comes through other people. It behooves one to communicate well.

You communicate well when other people clearly understand what you are saying. In other words, they get your meaning.

Just to get you started thinking about communication (and why it can be so problematic,) here are some principles that matter:

You cannot not communicate. Everything you say, the way you say it, the way you look, and everything else in the context….shares meaning of some sort.

– Communication is irreversible. Just like the toothpaste out of the tube, once it’s out, you can’t pull it back in. That’s the origin of the plea, “Earth swallow me.”

– Communication takes place on two levels: the relationship and the content. On the relationship side, your communication is doing one of three things: building a better relationship, maintaining the relationship, or weakening the relationship. The content is the information you wish to share.

– Communication is a process. You never really get it all done; it’s like your life in that it’s a work in process. Messages do not have meaning in isolation. That’s why email is so troublesome — this medium leaves out all those great clues from the context.

– Good communication is not the ultimate solution. You can perfectly understand another, and still disagree. You can disagree with another’s perspective, and agree to disagree, or decide not to spend much time with that person. Good communication with your auto mechanic is not a guarantee that he will fix your car’s problem.

That’s it for today. All the complexities involved in communicating in a multicultural universe provide daily fodder and employment for thousands of communication experts all over the planet. Have a great day!


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