The Certainty of Uncertainty in Communication

I don’t think of myself as a communication specialist. However, most everything I do, from coaching to large group work, comes from the kind of premise articulated through this recent Brain Pickings by Maria Popova.

There are many layers that go into this exchange that is human being with human. There are many layers that go into merely understanding the myriad of exchanges within ourselves. Thoughts. Feelings. Associations. Memories.

Communication attempts to put what is real or becoming into words or actions or energy through an inherently representative (and thus reductive) set of symbols. It’s like trying to explain love with only the rolling of dice. You can make up a system to interpret it — on a scale of 1-6, but it’s inherently flawed.

From Brain Pickings…

Every act of communication is an act of tremendous courage in which we give ourselves over to two parallel possibilities: the possibility of planting into another mind a seed sprouted in ours and watching it blossom into a breathtaking flower of mutual understanding; and the possibility of being wholly misunderstood, reduced to a withering weed. Candor and clarity go a long way in fertilizing the soil, but in the end there is always a degree of unpredictability in the climate of communication — even the warmest intention can be met with frost. Yet something impels us to hold these possibilities in both hands and go on surrendering to the beauty and terror of conversation, that ancient and abiding human gift. And the most magical thing, the most sacred thing, is that whichever the outcome, we end up having transformed one another in this vulnerable-making process of speaking and listening.

The attention to good communication isn’t just about the right words. Nor the right pacing. Nor the right metaphor. These are interesting and important things.

My primary interest remains with the fundamental understanding that communication ain’t perfect, no matter what good choices we make. And it can’t be. Too complex. Too many layers.

That doesn’t me absolving ourselves of effort. It does mean, however, that we learn to embrace inherent and un-reifiable uncertainty. It means that curiosity always matters in our communications, and in our being.

That’s some life work that I feel committed to.

2 Replies to “The Certainty of Uncertainty in Communication”

  1. That image of withering triggers risk for me. I’m learning to take tiny little risks of rejection or looking stupid all the time to get what I want and be in service

    1. Thanks Hamish. And there-in lays the important learning to me. There is inherent risk to be connected. Some of us land, sometimes in protection. Some of us, if lucky, work through the risk to know the leap of belonging and offering. Good to be in this risky business with you.

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