What’s the Purpose of Communication?
I like to talk a lot, but I’m not the best communicator.
How can I get better and have more impactful & meaningful communication?
When I’m talking with someone what are we doing? We’re sending and receiving signals. The person accepted my signals to communicate and we’re sitting at happy hour together…to do what? To communicate of course. We are exchanging information, sharing feelings, entertaining each other, passing on our perspectives and speaking pleasantries across the air between us in real-time. Of course it can happen across mediums and across time. It could be you and me in communication across the internet, reading this post.
More often than I’d like to admire, the way I talk to people is more like the way an author talks to his readers. I talk a lot and then some of it sticks with them and then they forget most of it (I can’t blame them, it’s only natural).
So if I scope “communication” to just an exchange of information this falls pretty flat. The other person doesn’t remember what I’m trying to relay and I completely ignore what they’re trying to communicate to me!
Communication is an opportunity to share. It’s an opportunity to listen. It’s an opportunity to cultivate a relationship. It’s a tool to get through an awkward elevator ride. (Yes, I know I’m limiting the scope of communication, but I’m not here to define all the ins and outs of communication across always and forever).
How do we communicate?
How to be better?
Modern life is the art of insulating ourselves from others, for building only interactions that we want to have. That’s why on my Twitter feed I remove people that hijack my attention. That’s why I wear headphones. Of course I wasn’t alive in the 1950s, 1820s, or earlier so I can’t be sure. I do know, however, that there are way more people alive today and way more Starbucks where I stand in line and can’t be bothered to talk to anyone. My headphones go in am I’m hurried away to a podcast studio on the coast or the planet of Arrakis.
There are times when communication cannot be avoided.
When it Can’t be Avoided
The Overton window is shrinking. We’re forced to qualify everything.
Of course the purpose of this communication is just to get the wheels greased on my train of thought. What have I observed since I’ve been thinking about this?
- More words doesn’t mean better. Just because I’m talking (or writing) doesn’t mean that people are obligated to listen, just like how higher taxes doesn’t mean more tax revenue. Speaking with fewer words is better.
- I am biased towards WORDS as communication way more than communication without words. I like things I can label. I wear a band t-shirt to send signals and drive conversation with people. I don’t think about how a green tee sends signals on its own.
- How can I make more impact with my communication? I think about what I’m trying to accomplish with my communication. What am I trying to convey? Just thinking about that, I find that I speak less. A lot of what I was saying didn’t serve any purpose other than just to be a release valve on all the thoughts bouncing around in my head.
Before I Go…
A ton has been communicated throughout history on the tactics to have better conversations. Here’s a video that resonated with me more than most others.
Written while watching 📽️ How to with John Wilson (2020)