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!

For Teh Lulz (Email Communication)

I know. You’re sick of explaining to your clients what your performance rates are… I mean how many times is going to take for them to realize you are creative professional and that you won’t work for anything less then the cost of the labour and materials?!?

And THAT is for charity work.

If we’re talking about a professional show or a corporate portrait, you gotta get paid, dear readers!

Earlier this month, I committed to the idea that basic communication is essential in all interactions; if you don’t have good communication skills, you are going to struggle with all of the ups and downs of life, from the small to the large ones. Ultimately this means you are moving against the flow of life OR being led by the flow, but never setting up your own course of navigation.

Why Don’t You Write A Book About It?

All great navigators know how to control the movement of their vessel from one place to another, and while navigation is defined by land, sea, air, and space, communication is divided up into 4 main forms – written, oral, non-verbal (gestures, words, facial expressions, body language), and interpersonal (personal relationships). And I’ve chosen to start this topic off right or rather write, with written communication.

But why writing timotheories?

Because writing is the form that I am interacting with you in this specific moment, dear readers. You creative cuties!

After all, true writing (read: contextual and encoded writing) has been with us since the bronze age of history, with proto-writing likely preceding 2000 BC, but definitely in that ballpark of time. Though to be clear, this was not a sudden change throughout the world, but a slow one, which developed from symbols and tablets.

History lesson aside, what that means is that written communication is here to stay, and we better figure out how best to interpret it, less we become even more delayed in our growth. Which would suck.

PC Load Letter, What The F Does That Mean?

Speaking of suckage, have you ever seen the Mike Judge classic Office Space? I’m not going to go into a bunch of detail on the movie, instead, you should wait for our upcoming Watch Culture on it, but I will share this little clip and some wisdom.

Life is already difficult as it is, so leave the jargon at the door! You’ve got memos, reports, bulletins, email, text messaging, and a host of other types of written communication to juggle on a daily basis, and thanks to smart phones, these things pile on quick.

It’s not so difficult to manage though, if you rely on a checklist of etiquette and follow through with it, of course. Let’s use the ever-so-popular email format as a basis in demonstrating the  7 C’s of communication (clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous). And clean language too if you want to emphasise courtesy, unlike what Mr. Bolton just did.

  1. Respond to emails promptly. This is one I personally struggle with, as I want to be attentive in my responses, but responding within 24 hours is ideal, within 8 even more preferable, and within 1 if you want to be a rock star.
  2. Proofread your work, and think twice before sending. It should go without saying, but leaving your emotions out of a response can be extremely difficult, and written communication is so easy to do, you can articulate your thoughts and rearrange them. Also, spend some time reading over your work, typos are the worst.
  3. Know your audience. In case it isn’t obvious, don’t blind copy everyone in a response either. Knowing your audience in every instance is difficult to be perfectly honest, but if you pay close attention, you CAN learn others motivations and keep projects moving forward amicably.
  4. Also, please stop forwarding your junk onto others. For example, if you like sharks, and want to let the world about shark week, but your work buddy lost his family in freak shark tank incident, he probably doesn’t want to deal with your email.
  5. Brevity is king. Keep emails brief. People hate reading long boring things. See?

It’s up to you obviously in how you go about enabling these new habits, but at the very least, you now have some basic tools of written communication that will help you better convey your ideas to others. And just like that printer that Michael hated, people can give messages which just don’t make sense… Frustrating for sure.

 

theories Summarized

You don’t want to be like that printer folks. That printer eventually got taken out to pasture and bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat and a few swift kicks to the paper tray. And yes, maybe that’s an extreme example of the risks of bad communication, but worse things have happened in real life. And unlike a theory, I’ll share some examples in the next post of this series to prove it.

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!

I Think We Need To Take A Break (Cross Talk Ep. 18)

I’m gonna keep the preamble short this time creative cuties – Sometimes franchises get stale.

And if I can be so bold as to use an analogy, franchises can very easily become like all relationships. If both parties don’t look past their differences, accept that the things they may have once loved now have a capacity for irritation, and focus on appreciating and nurturing the things that they generally DO like, then the relationship will experience fatigue.

What I’m basically saying is that you cannot change someone, that person has to decide to change on their own. But when you communicate about the things that bother you in a loving manner with no intent of changing the person, then there is room for growth.

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After all, likes and dislikes are completely subjective, so that hair twirling which you “hate” may be completely endearing to someone else. Movies are complicated, okay?

A movie franchise which always leads in with the same soundtrack and repeats similar themes over and over again can be really good, but only if you appreciate those qualities. When it starts to get stale, it might be time to move on or potentially appeal to reason by spending your money on franchises which keep it interesting.

Which is why today, Chris and I explore what we think some franchises are doing right, what others continue to do despite not growing in other ways, and how others completely miss the mark and wonder why they are so lonely. It might be an exhaustive effort but this is what franchise fatigue does to us.

And because we know there are a few elephants in the room, we’re just gonna get the superheroes and space adventurers out of the way immediately – Because let’s face it, they are low hanging fruit.

This is episode eighteen of Cross Talk, and dammit if I ain’t proud of all the franchise staples we were able to come up with in under twenty five minutes. Now it’s your turn to take a breather, settle in with your favourite snack and meditate as we bring up some interesting theories on how to combat these challenges…

I am #sorrynotsorry for the relationship analogy, because I think all relationships take work and I have this great theory about how we can learn from people in addressing this topic. But if you watch the video you’ll see what I mean. Another day, another theory realized my friends.

Please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. We want to hear your feedback!

Tim!