Conjunction Junction (Interpersonal Communication)

Language sure is weird.

Did you ever hear the expression “all dogs are mammals, all mammals are animals, therefore all dogs are animals?” Well I’m sure you have dear readers, but I have to wonder if you know the reason why it’s used fairly commonly (read: not that commonly) in academics or by people who want to be academics.

This statement is a syllogism associated with predicate logic; a type of logic which shows how the subjects and predicates of such statements relate to those in other statements in an argument. To put it another way, syllogisms are an instance of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from propositions that share a commonality and one final statement that combines second terms of the initial propositions in a way to infer a conclusion.

Another very well known example is that “all men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.”

Hooking up words and phrases and clauses.

The Challenge Of Language

Communication is exactly that though. Making sense of language, verbal and nonverbal, as well as written, in order to best exchange information, feelings and meaning between a pair of people or to a group of people.

This is where interpersonal communication comes in. It’s a communication process that happens between two or more people. It is a face-to-face interaction that further addresses two of the three previous topics we’ve already covered in the communication basics series. Verbal and nonverbal communication.

To Put In

Interpersonal communication skills really are the most essential of skills in life, in my opinion, of course. We deal with so many daily challenges, rare opportunities and unexpected encounters throughout our time on this spinning ball of dirt that we need to be prepared to communicate well, whether at work or in our personal lives. The truth of it is, well, the truth is that people who have invested the time in developing their interpersonal skills get further along in life.

Probably because those people are more charismatic and appealing. And if we’re being honest, we can all benefit from being more appealing. Also, you can’t stop interpersonal communication from happening. No matter who you are and where you are going in life, you just can’t stop interpersonal communication from happening.

Because even when we are silent, nonverbal communication works in full force. And just as the old adage says, once you say something, you can’t take it back. We make silent judgments of others all the time.

That person should go to hell. He looks fat in those pants. She wears too much makeup. Who raised this kid?

That internal dialogue happens whether we want it to or not. But as I’ve mentioned in the previous posts, it is possible to work on both your verbal and nonverbal communication skills. And even more importantly, it’s so necessary. The single best thing you can do to become better at both arenas is to work on your listening skills.

And that is going to be the next major topic we’ll focus on in another post. I don’t want to spend too much time today digging into it, but I will say this – The better of a listener you are, the less people will concern themselves with your verbal and nonverbal skills.

theories Summarized

When you learn to use your interpersonal communication skills effectively creative cuties, not only will you have excellent verbal and nonverbal communications down, but you will get more accomplished in life. I know that sounds like a quick fix, because it takes time, but you can expect a lot more discussion on this in future months. For now, I’m out of theories.

Tim!

Like Waves Hitting The Sand (Non-verbal Communication)

People often use silence as a way to collect their thoughts, while exhibiting control over a situation. And for many generations past, the strong and silent type was a kind of man to be emulated. He was quiet because he didn’t want to dominate conversations with words, he did this with presence and quiet affirmations shown through physical expression. It made him appear aloof and powerful.

Which is probably why so many male characterizations in popular culture showcase exactly this kind of male figure. If I were to ask you what a strong and silent type looked like, I’m sure that you could list at least a half a dozen examples from movies, music, and films, and if I took a decent sample sized survey that number would expand indefinitely. For me, video games will always be a great source of fodder for this trope. I must’ve played more than my fair share of games until I finished university, and after that point, I kind of lost interest in the hobby.

Fortunately for this post, I happen to know just a little more than your average citizen when it comes to video games – through grace or burden I’ll never know, but I’ll take it as a positive. And with that knowledge comes pattern recognition.

I Like To Move It, Move It

While every video game needs a good and vocal bad guy, it also needs an even better good guy. One who is basically mute. Maybe this is to turn that hero into an every man, and help make his story into ours, because we feel his feelings and make up reactions for him as we play the game. Maybe it was simply a limit of technology. But either way… whenever I think of the strong silent type, my mind doesn’t run to James Bond or Johnny Cash. No, I think of heroes like Mario, Link, and even Samus (read: surprise twist, Samus is a woman).

These heroes are selfless, sure of themselves, and deemed credibile within their chosen field.

I should be careful though not to put on a display demonstrating silence being golden, because there are some downsides. Conversely, this type of approach also makes men (read: everyone) appear distant, evasive, and uncomfortable with their environment. This happens because deep voices and higher volumes generally indicate confidence. Even when we should know better; that not all loud and proud people are in the right automatically.

Some of it comes down to nonverbal communciation too. And so I’m just sitting here wondering, do you remember that first time when I talked about the importance of communication?

Let’s Get Physical

Today I want you to consider that the pitch, speed, tone and volume of your voice is just as important in communicating your position as is the word choices you make. And in case you didn’t already know, hand gestures, facial expressions, posture, stance and proximity all matter in communicating the idea(s) you have at hand.

On top of that… eye movement, physical contact, and your appearance factor into a conversation too.

You see dear readers, this is because nonverbal communication is a lot more than the meaning of language, it focuses on the behaviours associated with message delivery. Learning to read body language is huge in gaining additional information about the hidden meanings of verbal communication.

Which is why I think this short article on non-verbal confidence in the workplace might just get you started right.

I’m not expecting you to become an expert in the matter over night, but a short list never hurt either.

  1. Good eye contact.
  2. A confident handshake
  3. Effective gestures
  4. Dressing the part
  5. Authoritative posture and presence
  6. Appropriate facial expressions
  7. Initiating interactions
  8. Appropriate voice tone
  9. Giving your full attention
  10. Responding to others’ nonverbal cues

Again this is just a short list, so if you want more meat, continue through to the article I linked above, but really consider these things dear readers, you reveal much more of yourself through body language then you even know, so want not get a leg up on the competition?

theories Summarized

And now that we’ve essentially covered three of the basic types of communication, we only have one more to go. A personal favourite of mine – interpersonal communication. If you thought this last topic was interesting, just wait for the insights we have in store next week. And I’m out of theories for now.

Tim!

I’m Not Listening (Verbal Communication)

I’ve I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, and I’ll probably say it a few more times for good measure.

Basic communication is essential, whether you are a painter, photographer, graphic designer, actor, musician or any other kind of creative professional. If you can become an expert of communication, then the sky is limit in terms of success with your business, hobbies or however you choose to pursue your art. Want to nail that audition? Communicate. Have to organize a meeting for a grant proposal? Communicate. Need to put time in at a trade expo and you want to gain some prospects? Communicate.

Just ask Descendents. They know.

We’ve covered it before, but there are four kinds of communication – written (I chose email as our example), verbal, non-verbal, and interpersonal.

Today we are going to focus on verbal communication and I’ll cite some specific examples from pop culture, and maybe one from my life, that demonstrate the importance of following etiquette as best we can. Now, granted, there have been countless books written on the topic of verbal communication alone, so we can’t expect to simplify the topic in one post, but I think this will be a great primer for anyone who needs some guidance. Whether you are well versed in the subject or merely a spectator.

Move Or Be Moved

Verbal communication, just like the three other forms of communication, requires the sender to convey needs, thoughts and feelings – feelings being what I personally think are central to a lot of communication problems. Conveying what you need can be just as difficult, but for many people it is even more difficult to express emotions in a healthy way. It’s not something which can be easily taught either

It seems as if emotions are either over-expressed in outbursts of anger and sorrow OR held back and expressed non-verbally.

This is why so many families fall into cyclical habits of rebuffing each other with the same arguments and literal arguments over and over again. Without having an alternative strategy to communicate, we persist at explaining our ideas, thoughts, and feelings, without making room for the other party to understand from their position.

When we are capable of emphasizing then dialogue opens up, otherwise the adage of rocks versus hard places presents itself. The Dark Knight sums it up perfectly in fact – within the context of the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, The Joker and Batman were always going to interlocked in perpetual battle because they couldn’t relate to each other. This also applies to the Batman mythos in general, but more importantly, it applies to those situations where people are at consistently at odds.

Missing You(r Point)

Effective verbal communication really comes down to clarity of speech, a calm and focused delivery, following conventional etiquette while simultaneously correcting for environment etiquette, and being polite and encouraging in dialogue. Simple right?

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Break-up, featuring the under-appreciated talents of Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston, then you are likely familiar with the scene where the very much mismatched Gary and Brooke finally have the relationship ending fight that leads to Brooke saying “I’m done.”

Yes, it’s tough to watch, because we’ve all been there at one time in our lives. Whether the male or female in the relationship (or masculine energy VS female energy for our non-hetero friends). I challenge you to watch the movie for the dynamic between the two before the break-up and immediately preceding the break-up, but before the movie falls apart into rom-com shenanigans.

Those kind of shenanigans.

The main point I want you to walk away with dear readers, is that as much as talking is important in a conversation, listening is far more valuable because it endears each party to the other, allows for a more thorough discussion, and limits conversations stoppers like judgment, self-centredness, derailing the topic, or ignoring the other speaker.

theories Summarized

All that said, no I didn’t leave you with a proper road map on verbal communication.

But I did warn you that this was a heavier topic then one post could cover. I fully expect to cover more tips and strategies for proper communication in coming months. Developing character and honing the correct life skills is absolutely essential in your communications, and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be able to run timotheories at all. This is a community based vision, and honouring differences of others through respectful discussion is key to that end.

Put these theories to work creative cuties, and you’ll see the positive results for yourselves.

Tim!

Basic Training (Communication Basics)

Here at timotheories I believe it’s important to provide you dear readers with a depth and breadth to my content which is fairly uncommon in many blogs of the day.

I write about the arts (music, film, events), share global wisdom and learnings I’ve uncovered on how to maintain and flourish as a creative professional, and build lots of stimulating content about the value of art, often focusing on the medias of movies, table top gaming, and interviews with salt of the earth artists. I follow a monthly schedule to ensure I release a lot of quality content: written and video.

One of the reasons I do this because I believe that good communication is one of the key skills you need in life. Another of the reasons I have this workflow down pat is because good teachers and leaders practice what they preach.

#sobasic

So many of the lessons I share are cyclical,  the kind of stuff you’ll hear over and over in your life and which you really need to learn, those things you run away from until you finally own up to your obstacles and face them head on. It’s one of those theories that is so compelling when life is going great, but difficult to accept when you’ve just been handed a shit sandwich after life pummeled you and then ran over your dog.

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

Pema Chodron

I found this quote from Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan and practising Buddhist. One who happens to be both an ordained nun and acharya. In case you’re wondering what an acharya is, it’s someone who is a senior instructor in religious matters. They teach the next generation of monks and nuns, and are generally expected to stay put, rather than wander the earth as so many Buddhist monks do.

Communication is at the root of us facing our fears in life creative cuties. As soon as you recognize that other people aren’t actively trying to limit your actions, but rather further their own lives (just as you do), it becomes way easier to recognize that the EST models of life are a real thing – exist, survive OR thrive.

As I mentioned in my first post on communication, there are seven aspects of communication to consider and make crucial in your life – clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous. I’m not going to spend the rest of this post outlining how those aspects all work and what to do with them, though I can see that becoming a future series down the road, if I get enough interest from you fine folks…

Instead I want to go over the basics of communication.

All About That Base

I found this really cool chart from Psychology Today which demonstrates how communication works. I’m not sure if they made the chart themselves or got it from somewhere else, but kudos to whoever came up with this diagram. It’s on point.

You see friends, communication can happens with multiple people simultaneously, but more importantly it is always a process that happens between a sender and a receiver. I could be delivering a presentation to a group of fifty people, but no matter how many people I present to, I am conducting individual communications with each party in the room.

So while nineteen people could understand the message I am relaying about marketing, one person might shut down as soon as I mention how we need to use more third party services as an annual media mix. This is because as the sender I have a responsibility to consider how I encode my message for the receiver and to be sure I truly understand the subject matter I’m speaking to. If I have complicated thoughts and feelings about the topic, I may not explain myself well, and so the listener is more likely to miss the message.

Now from the perspective of the receiver, a few things could happen which led to the misunderstanding. They could have not really been listening to the message for one, and for two, they might not have the comprehension skills needed to decode the message, but refuse to acknowledge their limitations. Which is a whole other loaded challenge of its own. And third, by adding a separate meaning to the message from what was intended. i.e. the person might think I’m suggesting incompetence in them and by stating we should hire more third party groups, I am affirming to the receiver that I want another company to support the workload because they are more talented.

theories Summarized

All that said, communication is most definitely something we can all learn to do better, and while it is a two way street, as you become more competent you’ll succeed more,. That means choosing your words and expressions more carefully, as well as being aware of your shortcomings in communication AND asking others to explain back to you what you’ve shared. Then you can expect to have better results getting help with editing your videos, distributing your brand new EP, or booking that photography shoot with the paint night lady.

It might not be a basic instinct, but communication really is key to success in the arts, and business in general. Just a theory I have.

Tim!

Art Tricks, Money Traps (Work-Life Balance)

We did it dear readers. We finally got through it.

We made it to the end of my series on the Wellness Factors of Life, AKA addressing the OECD index, or if you prefer, the Postconsumers series. What started out as a wild bid on my part in considering how to live a life with less and yet fuller than you could ever imagine, is now closing out with a topic more then fitting – work-life balance. The last factor that can directly effect your over-all state of being in this world of ours.

Because let’s face it, the average global citizen doesn’t even realize they have a creative component of who they are. Creativity that should be nurtured like all of the other things.

Your creative spark absolutely needs to be considered, and it connects quite well with areas of health, spirit, work, family/friends, environment, and personal fulfilment. When all of these things come together, your life will sing with excellence. Or maybe it’ll all fall apart if you ignore any one of those things for too long.

Yikes, that is a depressing thought to fathom. But I’ve been there creative cuties, and yes I may share that story in full one day. The story which led to one of my greatest theories on the importance of pursuing your purpose, it could be a campfire theory even, but not today is not that day friends.

I’ve got a different kind of wisdom to impart.

But first, let’s put a cap on that pen, and bring out the fundamental of life once more.

The Bare Knuckle Necessities

I’m going to make a bold statement.

You cannot achieve the perfect balance of life:
career (work),
spirituality (spirit, creativity),
space (home, studio, environment),
relationships (romantic, family, friends),
health (exercise, meditation, reading),
and fulfillment (hobbies, recreation)

All of these are noble pursuits, and completely attainable, but most definitely not all at once, and never more then two or three at a time. I know you’ve tried to accomplish this on your own, and you may have even fought against the theory because you wanted to disprove it. But like many idioms, adages, and metaphors of life, life hits back, over and over.

It’s not about besting life friends, it’s about taking it all in, giving it your best shot at a few areas at a time, and then continuing onward.

So for you that might mean getting a grip on health, and career for quite a while. At least until you’ve seen some positive gains and have set up some new healthy habits for yourself. I’m not going to devolve this post into going over theories I’ve discussed before on health, productivity and habit setting, but those topics do exist on timotheories.com. This is about you being okay with striving for progress in certain areas, and then moving into progress in other areas.

Automation Station

Effectively you are creating rhythms and routines for yourself that your body, mind, and soul will be grateful for. Think about it for a minute, we are so comfortable falling into the same shitty habits every day after work? Ever wonder why we do that? Hint: it’s not because we want to.

Instead of beating yourself up because you didn’t do everything on your list today, focus on a few things to accomplish each day and follow through on them. Once the systems are in place to make those good decisions a reality every day (usually after a 90 day commitment), you will eventually create your own ideal, and balance will now have a new meaning.

It becomes less about having everything in equal measure, and more about shifting attentions on these areas of wellness as needed. So put the time in, build your lists, schedule tasks, and make one concrete action towards your area of focus each day. As Rocky says, that’s how winning’s done.

For me, what that means right now is making art every week, and marketing my business. Those are two simple things, but I’ve been neglecting them for relationships, work, and health. It’s time to focus back on the art and my own purpose.

theories Summarized

Artists of all stripes have to face the same pressures of work-life balance as do those that ignore the creative path. There is nothing wrong with going one way or the other, but when you make art, never assume your failings at balance are due to the pursuit of creativity – we all struggle with this. Skill, determination and a commitment to improvement are essential in moving towards success within the arts, as is true of any field.

The difference is that your path is not set in stone, therefore the risks and rewards are much greater. But I have a theory that you already know what you need to chase.

Tim!