Communication: Shall we dance?

I have always been fascinated with behavior, and especially as it pertains to communication. I still enjoy watching lightbulbs click on as people have their “ah-ha” moments, when that certain something clicks as they discover the connection that had just previously eluded them. I think I am even more fascinated with communication because of my increased awareness since having acquired the rare Foreign Accent Syndrome.

I tell my child and adult students attempting to train their dogs a behavior. “The dog wants to please. You want it to do something. However neither of you “speaks” the same language, so how do you communicate?” Enter the beauty of studying BEHAVIOR and COMMUNICATION.

All living things NEED to communicate to live. The forms of communication differ, but they MUST get their needs met, and that always requires someone, or something else. God designed it that way. So there is a universal need to be understood! We all need to eat, be safe, and to propagate the species. To do that we need to cause something to happen. The ideal way is a partner and to do this we must communicate.

One of the best ways to be understood is to consider the audience with which you are trying to communicate. It falls upon you to do a little research on your recipient. HOW do they best listen? WHAT causes pleasure or fear in the listener? WHAT approach must I then attempt? HOW will I adjust dependent upon their reaction?

What I teach in our dog obedience class is that even when we don’t “speak” the same language –very meaningful communication IS happening. Most of our communication is NON-verbal. For example the emotions are seen in the eyes, the attitude in the posture, the overall acceptance or understanding (or lack thereof) in the behavior that follows.  I LOVE it!

Understanding is vital! So choosing the words carefully and even the timing in speaking those words is a skill that we can spend a lifetime improving upon! So many times great pain can be caused by misunderstandings. ALL of us have been on both the receiving and delivering sides of a cutting remark or misspoken word. The righteous person will acknowledge his error, ask for forgiveness and set himself straight on the path to greater wisdom in the future.

A person who is “hurt” by someone else’s words should have the self-control to take a step back and look at the big picture. So often our interpretations of a word are based on our own personal history, or even more often upon our current emotional state. None of which the speaker may have been aware. I find it best to give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker as they may truly be ignorant. Therefore, I will not “snap” first, and then regret my own error in judgement.

Communicating is like a dance. I take a step. It’s your turn. Who will lead? Who will follow? Or does this dance allow independent movements in close proximity? Regardless, it takes the willing participation of both parties and it is a beautiful thing when done well and a train wreck when it isn’t!

Two people can sit in the corner all night long when neither one takes the initiative to make the first move. One may cross the room in an act of friendliness toward the other. Or they may both meet in the center of the room. There is a type of friendly approach, seeking to get to know another person, to share an experience or to enrich lives through mutual discovery. On the other hand, there are people who are cynical and might see an approaching stranger as some form of threat. Still others may fly off the handle at a misspoken word or misunderstanding. All in all — communication is very much of a dance.

How sad is it to see a girl sitting all alone while her friends are enjoying the evening out on the floor? She wishes ‘someone’ whould just come up to even talk with her; although a dance might be fun as well. Then there is a boy over there thinking to himself,  “I wonder who SHE is? I’d ask that girl if she’d care to dance, but she’d probably just say ‘no’?” He lets his negative thinking fritter away his evening.

Sometimes I wanna shake up the pot and say “COME ON PEOPLE!”–Take a chance. Until you try, you’ll never know. Girly, you’ve got legs. You can raise up and smile at the fellow can’t you? Present yourself as a friendly and approachable sort and you will welcome many more happy times into your life.

And you, young man…Where’s your confidence? You’ve been rejected before, you say? Who hasn’t? But if every past failure thwarted a future attempt, where would anyone be? I’m not saying to bowl over there like a mad bull after red, but what harm is there in slowly walking up to someone, smiling and wishing a good evening? Ha! Give it a try, I say~

Obviously this little highschool dance scenario is only an illustration. It isn’t all about boy/girl relationships and dancing. My point is, have you ever stopped to consider that in this world we are given opportunities to “dance” with those around us via our communication and behavior skills? We all can have an impact: good or bad; accepting or rejecting; caring or careless; inspiring or despairing; genuine or fake.

Proverbs 24:14 (NIV)
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Have you thought about this? When sitting in a chair at the Big Dance in the Ballroom of Life. . . what kind of dance partner are you?

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