Tuesday, April 2

The Conversations We Have With Ourselves

Several people have either written or talked to me about the conversations they have with themselves. These mental chats aren't to be confused with serious self-exploration in an effort to better ones self. It has been made clear that it is contrived, MADE UP dialogue in their head [or out loud] of them and someone else. Some have laughed it off, others are serious as hell when they relay this information. I sit in awe, not because of the freely expressed psychosis [we all have a little "crazy" in us, I don't care about that] but at the fact that bad communication is a deal-breaker [of some sorts] with them. It quickly becomes clear that communication isn't defined the same across the board...and that they expect great communication from others but don't plan on doing it themselves. 

For some, if you let them say whatever they want to, when they feel like it, THAT is good communication. If you have something to say in return, that doesn't play a part in their definition of exchanging words. Others consider communication talking to everyone [themselves included] but the person they need to speak to. As long as they're getting it off their chest, it doesn't matter that the problem still exists. They've vented and some communication has taken place. Then there are those who encourage arguments because then it can't be said that the other person didn't get to say what they wanted. Never mind that both people were too busy talking/yelling to actually listen to what the other person was saying.

The problem with all of the above is that even though words might be exchanged at some point, none of it is effective communication. Monkeys can scream at each other. It doesn't mean they are accomplishing anything.

So what's the big deal with having conversations with ourselves? Nothing if we're perfectly fine seeing everything from our own narrow tunnel vision. It's a huge problem if we actually consider ourselves to be open-minded, good listeners and communicators. 
In order to effectively communicate, we have to be willing to accept that the other person doesn't see things as we do. Just as we have reasons for why we think and do something, so does EVERYONE else. It doesn't matter how trivial or significant the reasons. While it might be tough to digest, we also have to be open to the fact that we could be wrong about how we're seeing/approaching things. Acknowledging that possibility, indicates we're willing to listen to others. Hashing things out in our head, convincing ourselves that we know exactly what the other person is thinking, and then deciding how things will pan out is as pointless as talking to a brick wall and expecting it to give responses.

In my daily efforts to communicate better, I've processed that depending on the person, our levels of effective communication tend to change. Sometimes this clouds our judgment, leading us to believe we are exceptional speakers/listeners across the board. I'll use myself as an example. I use my language very deliberately. It comes across harsh to some people who rely on their feelings to open up to others. I had to come to the realization that while I might be great at this with SOME people, it isn't with ALL people. Once that epiphany smacked me across the face, it became a choice versus a stubborn incorrect opinion of myself.

This is probably the hardest thing someone who gets accolades for being a good communicator will have to accept. However, just because we tell ourselves something everyday, that doesn't necessarily make it true. Just like this talking to yourself thing. At some point, productive interaction with others has to be more important. It is only then that we'll stop having one-sided conversations and start having them with the people we've been leaving out of the exchange.

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