In previous posts we explored the need for honesty in quieting the mind, in understanding our mental contents, and our reactions to others. Another facet that can be explored in contemplative practice is communicating with others.
We need to look very honestly and carefully at what is occurring in the process of our communicating with others. It is first imperative to take an honest look at what exactly we are trying to accomplish in the communication. On the surface it may seem obvious, but a very deep honest contemplative investigation may reveal that there are much deeper objectives.
We may think that in our communications that we’re simply responding to another’s statements or providing information that is of interest or use to another. But, ask yourself precisely why you’re transmitting this particular information or responding in this particular way. Could it be that underlying this is a desire to be liked or admired by the other, to look intelligent or wise, or perhaps a need to be agreed with, or the desire to convince the other that you are correct, or even a need to feel superior to the other person? In other words is the communication serving for you a psychological function?
If it is, don’t feel bad, this is normal and human. It’s perfectly OK. But realizing the underlying agenda will not only help us to understand our own psychology, but also perhaps change our communications, making them more honest and sincere.
Once we have identified our real objectives in the communication, we can then look at the objectives of the other person. What is it that they really want from us? The underlying needs may be similar to our own or quite different. That doesn’t matter. What makes a difference is to know what the objective is and craft our response to what it is that they are trying to accomplish.
If the other person’s objective is to be agreed with or convince you that they are correct, we can tailor our answer by recognizing and communicating what we do agree with within the communication, while holding off disagreeing with the parts we don’t. Immediately disagreeing with the other person will not result in a satisfying communication. Rather it is likely to harden the others opinion and elicit emotions that can make it even more difficult to communicate.
It is not necessary to be dishonest or manipulative. It is only necessary to understand the underlying agenda and work with it rather than causing friction by working against it. This is true both with yourself and the other person. Contemplate deeply and honestly regarding what is actually transpiring in the communication and have a much more satisfying interpersonal interaction.
Let’s be honest and look at our communications with others deeply and clearly.