Finding Joy – The Message

Have you wondered, “How can I learn to get through to this person?”

Have you wondered, “Gee, I thought I knew this person, but I don’t think I do anymore.”

With the advent of social media in recent years with old friends and family reconnecting, have you wondered, “I don’t remember them this way back then.”

There is a whole lot of friending and un-friending going on these days and I have not been immune to it. In a world that is becoming more divisive and hostile, I have wondered, “How can anyone find joy in the messages these days?”

Concentrating on the message

Every person has a unique communication style, a way in which they interact and exchange information with others. Okay, so let’s look at the different communication styles.

There are four types of communicating styles.

1. Passive communicators often act indifferently. They yield to others, usually failing to express their own feelings and needs, allowing others to express themselves.

2. The aggressive communicator speaks in a loud and demanding voice, maintaining intense eye contact and dominating or controlling others by blaming, intimidating, criticizing, threatening or attacking them.

3. Passive-aggressive communicators mutter to themselves rather than confront a person or an issue. They have difficulty acknowledging their feelings, particularly anger using facial expressions that do not correlate with how they feel and even deny there is a problem.

4. Assertive communicators can express their own needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. The assertive style is known to be the best communication style because it aims for both sides to win.

This is interesting because depending upon my mood, battle or if my bullshit meter has been activated, do I alter my communication style? Do I speak differently with my mother than with my husband? How about my co-worker versus my child? Do I communicate differently with a stranger than a friend? Does it depend on the topic? Are certain topics left off the table? Is that good or bad?

You see where I am going with this? No? Stay with me.

Let’s look at the different learning styles because our preferred learning style internally represents our experiences, the way we recall information, and even the words we choose.

There are seven types of learning styles.

1. Visual learners prefer pictures, images and spatial understanding.

2. Auditory learners prefer using sound and music.

3. Verbal learners prefer using words, both in speech and writing.

4. Physical learners prefer using the body, hands and the sense of touch.

5. Logical learners are mathematical. They prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.

6. Social learners prefer to learn in small groups or with other people.

7. Solitary learners prefer working alone in self-study.

I am primarily a visual learner, although verbal and logical learning is sometimes thrown in for good measure. So, how can I learn to become a better communicator? How can I become better at sharing my ideas, passions, views, and opinions, so I and the other person can each can be great in our own way without hurting or slamming one another in the process?

Are you listening? Yes? Maybe.

I believe to learn how to better communicate with one another, each of us needs to understand the types of listening styles.

There are seven types of listening styles.

1. Appreciative listening – listening for enjoyment.

2. Informative listening – gather information such as facts, directions, news, or instructions.

3. Critical listening – listening to examine and evaluate logic, truth, and value.

4. Empathetic listening – listening to another person’s feelings, or thoughts, with the ability to put oneself in the other’s shoes.

5. Precision listening – listening to single out one sound with exactness and clarity.

6. Discriminating listening – listening to distinguish all the sounds in one’s environment.

7. Social listening – listening just enough effort to give a response.

Oftentimes, we concentrate on the messenger rather than on the message.

In the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi there is a passage,
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;

To be understood as to understand is to first believe we are all human first and foremost. No other label necessary.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Netflix special, “Nanette” a stand-up comedy act written and performed by Australian comedian, Hannah Gadsby. Its original debut was in 2017 but I never heard of Hannah Gadsby or her special, “Nanette” before that evening. It is a work of social commentary, especially about LGBTQ issues and I have watched it several times since.

Hannah Gadsby had such a profound effect on me. Not because she identifies differently than I do, or that I have an issue with the LGBTQ community. What I found in her performance was the ability to connect on such a human level about dignity and acceptance. The look of terror, anger and sadness in her face as she described the ugly experiences in her life. That visual combined with her voice brought me to tears. I had childhood traumatic experiences, although different from hers, but just the same I saw my own face in hers. I just wanted to reach out and hug her. I hope to one day. To let her know the impact she has had on me to examine how I communicate, but more importantly how I listen. And to also to let her know she is loved just as God made her.

My message is in my control.

Today’s political landscape makes it more difficult, but not insurmountable to learn how to communicate and listen to others. It takes more than open eyes, ears and mind to effectively communicate and listen to others.

Yet the messages I hear may be surprising if I commit to learning to communicate and listen more attentively with my heart. If my prayer is the same as Saint Francis, then I can find joy in trying. And perhaps I may be understood too in the process.

Actions are the words of the heart.

Still the cautionary tale is in a person’s actions. Often, I need to silence myself and to the noise around me. Actions do speak louder than verbal words. And what makes it even more difficult is wading through those words and the actions to know the truth.

Each of us has a different communication, learning and listening style, as well as different life experiences. Yet, the one thing that is in my control is my message.

Have you heard yourself lately? How about the other person? I’m committed to learning to become better at it. You too?

Finding joy in today,

New web photo - Sheri

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