Communication implies an exchange of information and emotions. Reflecting about our identity demands us to shed light on our true nature, our being. Transferring ‘who we are’ to others is always difficult, as human complexity and the many roles and personality nuances that are part of us form a truly enormous galaxy. We are atoms in an infinite aquarium of molecules, every now and then we try to stop and talk to each other, but we realise how difficult it is to stop and talk to each other.
Incommunicability can prevent us from making others understand what we would like to do, how we feel, what we really are, and what we could be.
A major source of incommunicability occurs when we have not first clarified ourselves, our being, the boundaries of our mental space and role in the world. I may not be able to transfer information correctly because I myself have a blurred, unclarified representation of it within myself. The resulting communication will certainly carry doses of incommunicability from the start.
The whole problem of life is this: how to break one’s own solitude, how to communicate with others.
Focused introspection has a name in psychology, it means Focusing. Focusing (whether in the variant of emotional focusing – shedding light on emotions, or informational focusing – shedding light on data and facts), allows us to clarify – first of all to ourselves – what we want to convey, what we feel is important to convey, and what we want to happen as a result of our communication (communicative effect or result).
The theme of incommunicability leads us to ask ourselves which is the possible “common ground”, what “you and I” have potentially to share, which common interests we have or could have, what we could talk about.
The theme of the four distances also requires us to look for possible areas of common interest in the roles people present to us, the common communication codes we might have, the common values we have or might have, our shared pasts, even if only on an emotional or experiential level.
Fighting against incommunicability on an intrapsychic level, interpersonal level, and in mediated contexts (e.g., email, writing, computer messages, presentations, social exchanges) requires a great deal of self-awareness, first of all. Asking ourselves what we really believe in, asking ourselves if we are really communicating authentically, is not wasted time. Internalising values, feeling them our own, strongly wanting to break down the barriers of incommunicability, is a sacred and noble task.
“Learning and teaching things that one cannot fully accept in one’s inner self is always a difficult task.”
Bringing out the content of our ‘thought cloud’, the thoughts that always accompany us even if not formulated in words, allows us to interact between ‘my world’ and ‘your world’ to find common spaces.
Explaining the internal dialogue is a technique, called ‘think aloud‘. a way to approach authentic communication. Not everyone always tells us what they are thinking. Saying what we are thinking is a liberating act. Saying things clearly is much better than keeping them inside to fester.
The important thing is that we don’t create a kind of ‘destructive honesty’ that puts truth and ‘telling’ before the rights of other people, including sometimes the right to be left alone or not to know.
Opening up the cloud of our thoughts and those of others, when we have given ourselves the space to do so in a conscious and shared way, allows us to see what is inside, requires letting go of all those communicative fears, and the fear of rejection, of judgement, towards the desire to seek a free flow of communicative exchange.
This search for common worlds or common interests concerns both personal and professional contacts, friendships in the real world, but also “friendships” on social networks, where – without any commonality and common interest, even if only in terms of values – there will be no true and deep communication.
Sometimes true inner listening, and access to one’s own personal ‘cloud of thoughts’ is only possible in certain situations of relaxation, or even in states of trance, where the filter of rationality is lowered. In the coaching sessions I conduct, by bringing people to greater emotional quietness, I am able to produce conditions in which one can grasp one’s inner dialogue much better. This means freeing the cloud from the cages and constrictions that keep it stifled, letting it express itself, and then turning it into words, whether referring to facts or emotional states.
The Four Distances powerfully enter into the possibility or not of having a communicative exchange centred on authentic, direct, true communication and not the falsehood that emerges from masks and forced roles.
What is that “something” that holds us together? It is enough that there is something, even minimal, that acts as a point of union, in order to be able to expand it, widening the depth of a relationship.
The Common Ground or territory of intersection is what unites us. It can be just a small, minimal, limited common interest, or a strong common interest in a wide range of areas of life. The quantity and quality of this Common Ground offers space for constructive communication, but it has to be sought, it does not come by magic.
Having things to say to each other requires an active search for Common Ground.
Finding it is not only pleasant. It is vital.
The failure of a relationship is almost always a failure of communication.
Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Love, 2003.
Dr. Daniele Trevisani
– Master of Arts in Mass Communication, University of Florida (USA)
– Fulbright Scholar, Intercultural Communication, American University of Washington, DC (USA)
– Certified Advanced Coach by STEP™
– Certified Counselor by STEP™
– Certified Coaching Supervisor by STEP™
– Certified Counseling Supervisor by STEP™
– Master Trainer HPM™ Human Potential Method
– Master Trainer ALM™ Business Coaching Method
– Master Trainer 4DM™ Intercultural Communication Method