Isn't this so true of people? Just like these little animated critters, we can go for years misunderstanding each other's actions until we discover we have a mouth that knows how to say what we feel inside. When Tom & Jerry needed each other, they opened up and talked. Their pride went out the window.
Communication can also be what is not vocalized. Such situations may or may not need words. Bernie is a 70-year-old press agent, happily married for over 40 years. His business thrives on communication. A wise and gentlemanly white-haired man, Bernie likes to tell this story as he chuckles: "You know, even two strangers in an elevator have a relationship. A man and woman get on the elevator. They eye each other. The guy's checking out the gal and the gal is wondering what he's thinking."
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So you see, communication is taking place long before we begin to verbalize what's on our minds. How many times have we heard that cliché, "couples must communicate"? We have heard this so much we may be numb to the valuable meaning of communication, that is, to share and to participate. Talking, listening and understanding each other's messages are our communications goals. And don't think you're in alien country if you haven't mastered it yet. Even skilled professional communicators like myself revert to tongue-tied reactions once in a while. Recently I ran into John, the first man with whom I was ever in love. He is a major recording star who is now happily married with a family. I had a deep and meaningful love affair with him 20 years ago.
When I went up to him at one of his concerts, instead of being my cool, professional self, I "lost it." I mean, I became a child; I turned to putty; I oohed and ahhed. The result? Miscommunication. Although happy to see me, John was on guard, quick to let me know he is happily married with a son. Did my gaga behavior convey the message that I was after him? I wanted to tell him about my happy marriage too, and how happy I am for John's happiness. But I reverted to the young girl I was when I first met him. I am a relationship counselor, I've written books, appeared on national radio and television, and lectured in front of hundreds of people. I'm known as a "sexpert" for my advice to couples, but I blew it that evening when I ran into John. I'm still learning too.
What communication is not:
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Communication is not a one-lane highway. It isn't all talking, and it isn't all listening. Janis, a woman in her 30-somethings, was married to her life-mate for five years before they broke through a major communication blockage and began to talk in earnest, with each hearing the other. "I would talk to Jake until I was blue in the face," Janis said, exasperated when she felt her husband was not hearing her. "I don't think he understood a word I was saying.