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Communication: Why Aren’t We Given a Clue?

by Matt on July 18, 2012

I am interested in communication, and this month the planet Mercury is in a retrograde cycle(moving “backwards” in relation to Earth). Mercury is the planet representing communication, and is the name that the Romans gave to the greek archetypal god Hermes who is the god of communication-among other things. Astrologers say that this particular retrograde cycle is even more centered on revising and revisiting communication in our own lives. I’ll be giving a bigger over-view of why astrology is semi-important, actually pretty scientific, and about the basic misconceptions soon, but now back to the planet Earth:

They always say about relationships, “communication is SO important.” But without actually explaining what that means, we can take it on as another thing we are doing wrong… 🙁

I have a degree in Media Art, and took many undergrad classes in the “Comm” department of my University(San Francisco, USF). Intercultural Communication, Communication 101, 201, Spanish, English, Feature Article Writing. I took Visual Communication – drawing – as part of an aborted degree in architecture and studied how to tell stories on film, with photography, and with sound recording alone as part of my major. I also write songs, and blogs, and emails, and I actually talk to people quite a bit!

Lately, I have been studying more about communication – but not from an art perspective. I have been learning how to talk to people in everyday life. What I’ve learned is pretty astonishing, considering all the communication theory and practice I already know, and also considering that I’ve been talking to people my whole life without considering studying it at all!

Most recently I have been studying Non-Violent Communication(NVC) as presented by Marshall Rosenberg. The impetus came about through having conversations with my girlfriend about our lives that would seem to start one place, happy, then veer off into terrifying territory, and before we new it, we didn’t want to communicate at all! So as part of a commitment to uncovering what things we can do to make our lives richer and more loving, we came across NVC and a few other works that have really helped us get CLEAR about how our use of communication can help or hurt our relationship with each other and with ourselves.

I refer to NVC as compassionate communication, or conscious communication, and it is pretty different than what I am used to. An example I can share that has really helped me to begin articulating more clearly, and less violently(!), is to be conscious of the way in which I express what I am “feeling” about something. So often, when we say how we feel about something, we are actually not expressing a feeling. I could say to her, “I feel like you aren’t hearing me.” But that is NOT actually a feeling. That’s a thought, and a projection of my thought onto her, which can put her on the defense.

A way to express my feeling would be to say, “I feel frustrated because I want to know that you understand what I’m saying, but I’m not sure you do.” This is a WAY more clear communication about what is actually happening. Not only am I saying what I am actually feeling at the moment, I am taking responsibility for my own feeling by stating why I am frustrated, and not blaming her.

Maybe you can see how this might help in any conversation, but it especially helps in one that is about things that are really important. Marshall Rosenberg teaches this to individuals and groups who are negotiating sensitive matters from across the spectrum; schools, businesses, and even national and regional conflicts as sensitive as the Israeli/Palestine struggle.

Additionally, because our language is so central in our thinking and worldview(many of us predominantly think in words, which is left-brained, and based on our education style) when I am thinking in the first statement, “I feel like you aren’t hearing me,” I am actually thinking that she is at fault. Because I think she is at fault, and am not taking responsibility for my own feelings, this can start a wildfire in my mind about what is wrong and all the ways to fix it, which takes up a lot of energy, and isn’t even headed in the right direction!

If I start wondering about how to fix this problem “out there” in the manifest world (ie. Fix her) instead of “in here” then I am going about the problem in a backward manner. If I can’t see the “forest for the trees,” then I don’t even know where the problem is.

What is so interesting to me, of course, is that I don’t ever remember being taught anything like this in growing up, or in school, even while getting a degree in communication. Admittedly, this is about personal communication, but it seems pretty important, and almost like I am being a given a new language to use!

So, in honor of Mercury being retrograde, I ask you whether there are ways in which your communication might be able to take a step forward, and get a bit clearer? Where might your clarity of expression be holding you back? And, if you got really clear, how much easier could things be or how much more effective might you be in getting the things your heart desires? If you are noticing your converstaions getting bogged down, Check out Marshal’s book titled Nonviolent Communication.

I hope this helps you bring some clarity and peace to your relationships!

Love, Matt

Category: Communication
God: Hermes
Planet: Mercury
Chakra: 5th
Other: brain hemispheres

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss Ri July 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I recently read a similar article about compassionate communication. I think it is interesting that this simple mentality isn’t taught to us, because you would think that this would be a more natural way to communicate. Taking responsibility and understanding feelings is something we don’t fully realize when we talk to others. We are taught as long as you use an “I feel” statement that our feelings are being heard, but as you stated- that is a thought. Thank you so much for sharing with others this small discovery, and I hope it helps other become more aware of their communication and their own feelings.

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Matt July 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Yea Ri! I’m glad you liked it – and thanks for sharing… The Book I refer to, spells it out pretty straight. When we say “I feel…” it should be followed with a feeling word, like irritated, or joyful… and not by like, as if, etc… Totally check it out! I am now on the chapter about “compassionate listening” and am stoked to learn more. It has helped a lot already. TTYL, Matt

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