Effective communication is all about conveying your messages to other people clearly and unambiguously. It is also about receiving information that others are sending you, with as little distortion as possible. It is looked upon as a skill that can be mastered with developing a lucid and terse method of presentation, a well-coordinated body language, pleasant facial expressions, and an appropriate use of language and by donning befitting attire. Does communication really end here? No. It percolates much deeper into the domain of one’s thoughts and feelings and originates from there.

The real person is hidden in the non-physical world of the mind, beneath the physical structure of bones and muscles or the fabrications of cotton and thread. Thus, we could bring about a massive shift in our communication skill if we were to change our approach from an outside-in to that of an inside-out.

We have a physical aspect, namely the body and its interaction with the world around results in pleasurable or painful experiences. We also have the non physical counterpart namely the mind, which is not visible to the naked eye but only perceptible to itself, which also gives rise to experiences of pleasure and pain. An outside-in approach would directly address the factors related to the body like attire, body language, words and trains one to use one’s body appropriately to create the results needed. An inside-out approach would go deeper into the very cause behind a particular behaviour. What is driving you to utter those words? What is prompting you to tilt your head in a particular angle or hunch your back while you walk? Once the cause is analyzed and a shift is made at the level of one’s thinking/feeling thereafter to retrain your body into a different mode of communicating is an easy task. The other way might be an uphill task. That is why we find people learning a particular technique of communication fall back into their old mode because when the old thought pattern resurfaces, it pulls you back into the vortex of the same behavioural pattern.

Thoughts and emotions create your responses, responses precipitate into action and actions create your destiny.
Imagine yourself in a conversation with someone in a position of authority. Your responses, be it turning your head away from them signifying disapproval, moving your head upwards signifying indifference, losing your eye contact meaning distraction, slumping your shoulders meaning fear or guilt are all driven by emotions. Even the words you use would be in tune with what you feel within. Our responses to situations on a continued basis would determine the destiny or the life situations we create for ourselves.

There is yet another factor that governs your body language and words which also lies in the domain of the mind called ‘conditioning’. Society, family, culture, religion, tradition, books, movies, archetypal heroes of your life whom you mode after, all these have conditioned you to think and behave in a particular way. In his autobiography My Experiments with Truth, Gandhiji narrates a childhood incident where he is prompted by his teacher to copy a word from a boy next to him when the chief examiner visits the school. Gandhiji refuses to copy but at the same time does not lose respect for his teacher. He concludes that even when you observe a certain lapse in the way elders behave, it should not deter you from respecting them. A person modeling his/her life after this thought or conditioned by this thought would exhibit a behavior contrasting in many ways, the body language, expressions or words of someone modeling after a rebel hero in a Bollywood movie. When you communicate you need to become aware of the conditioning you are arising from. Only then would you be conscious of the other person’s conditioning. Otherwise you would “speak” a different language which would sow seeds of dissention and separation and ultimately destroy the relationship. Communication born of awareness could bring about a sense of connectedness and oneness with people. That indeed is the very purpose of communication.

Author:
Purnima
Faculty, One World Academy