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Friday, January 19, 2007

Words Well Spoken

Enough with the metaphors.

Today, let me give it to you straight.

An essential aspect of our humanity is the interaction of human beings. It is probably the essential part of us - the way we communicate with each other, verbally, physically, mentally, and so on.

Now, think about your day today and the words you use.

Our words have the ability to hurt. When we engage each other in conversation, sharp words can be as dangerous as throwing knives around. One wrong move and we can wound someone's pride, offend people inadvertently, or perhaps criticise the other person without meaning to.

For the sake of safety, most of the time we keep our knives covered up. We use polite phrases and politically correct words to wrap around the sharp edges of the knife. Although this works well in social situations, our protective measures can also get in the way when we wish to communicate openly, directly and honestly.

That is why proper communication is not only an important skill but a special one, too. This is because personal communication is imprecise, so it can be very difficult to get it right. Words mean different things to different people at different times, and their intended meaning can be further modified by tonality, gestures and facial expressions. When we think about the many ways misunderstanding can occur, it seems like a miracle that personal communication works at all. And when it does work well, when we achieve nearly perfect understanding with other human beings, it is indeed very special.

This "perfect understanding" happens when we spend time with good friends and loved ones. In their presence, we can set aside social etiquettes. We can speak plainly and rest easy in the knowledge that our intentions will be completely understood. This comfortable communication is uplifting to the spirit. Think back to the last good conversation you had with someone close to you. Chances are the memory will bring a smile to your lips.

We connect with the people we care about. A kind of magic happens when we establish rapport and form a direct soul-to-soul connection. Through such a connection, they know what we are thinking and we know their thoughts. They can complete your sentence and you can anticipate what they are about to say. It's almost telepathic, but there is nothing supernatural about it. It's a plain, simple, everyday miracle.

Make the Miracle Happen

There are three essential ingredients to make this miracle happen.

The first is affinity. It is a rare and precious thing that does not automatically manifest itself when you meet someone. For most of us, it is the exception rather than the rule to find others who are in tune with us. Those who possess a natural affinity with us play a special role in our lives. If we think we can discard them and easily find someone else, we will be very much mistaken. Treat those you find with the utmost care.

The second ingredient is time. It takes time to really get to know someone. We need to nurture a friendship or a relationship over the long haul, with much time spent together and many shared experiences. Natural affinity is a good foundation - but it won't do us much good unless we build on it. People need to build a history with one another, a shelter within which to withstand the storms of life.

The third and most important ingredient is trust. In the spirit of complete, absolute trust, both sides must come together.

Trust is the Key

In the same way, trust is also the most important ingredient in personal communication. If trust is not present, you can exercise the utmost caution in choosing every word carefully and still fail to convey your meaning. If the other party does not trust you, then every word you say is suspect and open to the most negative interpretation, and any attempts to explain or clarify may result in even greater problems.

When trust is present, it trumps everything else. Even when you can't think of the right words and you stutter badly, it doesn't matter. They'll tell you: "It's okay, we know what you mean. We know what you are trying to say." And you realize they actually do - because of the wonderful trust that exists.

Our goal is to use our time and words well to create miracles - by trying to bring affinity, time and trust to all come together in our interactions with others. If you already have people in your life with whom you share all three ingredients, then you should see them as an almost unbelievable blessing. Appreciate them.

What would happen if you were to lose these special people in your life? What would happen if you should lose the magical ingredient of affinity or trust? We might realize, too late, how good it was when there was someone to fill that void their absence would undoubtedly make. We might regret having taken them for granted.

The Ultimate Message

This is the ultimate message: let us not wait until it is too late. Think about your good friends and loved ones. Consider the incredible good fortune to have them in your life and see your deep connection with them for what it truly is - magic.

Let them know how you feel. Tell them how happy you are to be able to relax in their presence; tell them you appreciate being so comfortable and perfectly at ease with them whenever you connect. Thank them for being your partner all these years; thank them for practicing the special skill with you so many times - each time an astounding performance all by itself!

And they will know what you mean. Possibly they already know without you even saying it. And then you will witness this simple understanding... as an incredible miracle of words well spoken.

Don't take my word for it. Try and it and see.

My Life Handbook: Part three: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Read more: About words | What I have to say >>

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