Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Communication of the Third Kind

Communicating is so incredibly important and it is something that we all can underestimate. We all know the two basic forms of communication, the first being language. When you speak a language fluently it is easy to communicate and the chances of being misunderstood are slim. On the other hand, you may attempt to learn a second language and become instantly aware how easy it is to offend someone inadvertently because of your lack of mastering the subtleties of that language. Moving on, the second most commonly known type of communication would be physical communication. Physical, would include something as structured as sign language or something as simple as pointing or waving to get a message across. Here again, one could send the wrong message and offend someone from one culture, while the same gesture would be seen as a compliment in another. While most of us recognize the “thumbs up” gesture as positive, in Iran, Iraq and Thailand this is considered an obscene gesture. These two forms of communication are easy to understand and for the most part, we are aware and pretty good at using them to communicate however the third kind is a different story.

The third kind of communication I refer to as “Behavioral Communication”. Starting at birth we are deprived of the first two forms of communication and therefore become dependent on using the third, “Behavioral Communication”. We learn that by changing our behavior we can communicate with those around us. Crying would be the first form of behavioral communication. It doesn’t take long before we learn that when we cry we get attention. We rely on behavioral communication for quite some time and our parents teach us what works and what doesn’t work, through their responses. From there, the natural progression would be that physical communication would be introduced to alleviate the frustration that can occur when only behavioral communication exists. We begin to point and make motions with all of our extremities to communicate. Within a short period of time, language is introduced and things become much easier for everyone.

So what’s the point?

Many of us overlook the behavior language that still exists between all of us as adults. We continue to reward the same type of behaviors that we don’t want in our lives. We respond behaviorally to language and sometimes communicate only through language instead of speaking behaviorally. In other words you wouldn’t answer someone in Japanese, if they spoke to you in English. If you want to change someone’s behavior you need to change your response to that behavior. Talking to them about it and how it may hurt you won’t work (Japanese). What is overlooked is that your behavioral response to their behavior, is talking to them in a very primal way. Some might say that it sounds reactionary or vengeful but it’s not anything more than another form of communication.


Kiki said...

Could you give some practical examples of your last paragraph (without giving away any family secrets:) Coming from a Mental Health background, I can talk a subject to death and speak Japanese to certain people that dont seem to understand Japanese;) Just wondering...

Alex said...

Example #1 Everytime you begin to prepare milk for your infant they whine and cry. You rush to prepare it while the child continues to cry. As they continue to whine and cry you hand them the milk. You have reinforced the behavior and told them that crying will make you work faster and eventually the bottle of milk. their behavior spoke to you and your behavior responded. What if on the other hand everytime they cried you stopped moving completely and everytime they stopped (even if for a second) you continued preparing the milk. Once you finished preparing it you would not hand it to them until they were silent. It may take a few times but eventually they would learn that being quite produces the bottle of milk.

Example #2 (simple but stupid)

What if everytime time your partner said they loved you, you ignore (without talkign to them verbally) them by not responding? How long would it be before they stopped saying I love you? Your behavior would change theirs without talking about it. Now let's just say they talked to you about how they would like you to respond to them when they say i love you, would that work? Maybe a little but probsably only temporarily. Now lets say they stopped saying it to you at all (changing their behavior), what would that eventually do to your behavior. It's hard to express it all in writing and particularly trying to keep it short, but I hope this helps get my point through.

Kiki said...

good examples, thanks Alex!

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