Connective communication - the concept is out there folks.
In the absence of communication, only perception remains. I have had occasion, of late, to contemplate this awareness, as a naïve spectator watching the consequences of a friend’s familial conflict and subsequent fragmentation. As I clung to hopefulness for him, my naivety was replaced with a lesson: When conflict threatens a relationship, the reciprocal flow of communication is as vital to a healthy relationship as the reciprocal flow of blood is to a healthy heart.
Communication is loosely portrayed as the ‘act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information to share your ideas, thoughts, and feelings to someone else.’ As I reasoned with this definition, I considered another approach in understanding communication. If dictionary.com will indulge me, I’d like to tidy up the loose ends of this definition by suggesting a word change, along with an appendage that may provide inspiration in discouraging communication from faltering to perception.
communication [kuh-myoo-ni-key-shuh n] - the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express and exchange information to share your ideas, thoughts, feelings to someone else, and with the expectation that that someone else will respect and validate your ideas, thoughts, feelings.
Expressing ‘or’ exchanging alludes that perhaps both are not essential. However, my thinking is that both are necessary for communication to, at the very least, even exist. That is, within any conflict, the two persons involved should have the opportunity to be both the communicator and the communicatee (can’t resist the opportunity to make up a word). Assuming the existence of communication, my philosophy also implies connection. Connection, conceptually, is reciprocal, providing a pathway in both directions. Communication connects the communicator and communicatee in a cycle of exchanges and expressions. And when there is connection, there is a much better chance for the prerequisite of empathy when working through the conflict. I thought perhaps I coined a new phrase, connective communication. I checked; that is, I googled. The concept is already out there folks. But maybe my blog will expedite a movement to expand the concept throughout the masses. World peace would be a bonus.
I added the appendage because it’s okay to have expectations during a conflict. It’s natural. When I engage in communication, I both extend and anticipate respect and validation. Agreement is not always necessary. Respect can exist without agreement. Validation can exist without agreement. However, a healthy relationship cannot exist without respect and validation.
For connective communication to be productive, the exchange must be direct, between the two people in where the conflict exists. When others feel compelled to get involved, especially without invitation, the communication becomes that childhood game we played at pajama parties – telephone. A silly game that provided a few laughs when the telephone line was either compromised by static (i.e., too many giggles to hear the message) or cut out all together (i.e., someone intentionally distorted the message for more laughs). Playing telephone is not so much fun in the thorny realm of adult conflict.
Connective communication is the process. The integrity of this process, what actually transpires during communication, illustrates a person’s intent for a resolution. The willingness to do the hard work. The humility to take responsibility. Or not, which sends a silent message that, ironically, is loud and clear. Connective communication challenges our virtues – honesty, sincerity, maturity, compassion, reasoning, acceptance, grace, commitment, and forgiveness. Yes, a rather wide-ranging list to integrate in the midst of an emotional conflict. I have lots of thoughts regarding these virtues and their impact. A subsequent blog, perhaps. For now, I will leave you with this question: are you virtuous? I try to ask myself this daily, because tapping into my own virtuousness can be challenging depending on the circumstance. Always being virtuous is not easy. Consider this when answering the question: Human nature dictates that we will make mistakes; that our emotions can, as they say, get the best of us. And that, too, is natural during conflict. However, it’s what you do next that determines your virtue.