Let me start off by offering a caveat (and yes I know that it’s not a caveat, but I just can’t think what on earth you call a caveat that goes at the beginning rather than at the end and I’m feeling too lazy to research it right now – so beat me if you wish – no really, I might like it). My caveat-that’s-not-at-the-end is this:
- If upon reading this blog entry you wonder if it is directed at you, then it probably isn’t; whereas if you get to the end (and simply by doing so you will rewarded with my undying respect and admiration and the promise that a warm area of the deep end, where heavy petting is allowed, is reserved just for us) and think “well that’s all very well, but I wonder who he means”, well then trust me, it’s meant for you.
And so now onto the text of my sermon today.
I really love listening to people talk about the importance of communication. Communication in business, in politics or in relationships. And why I hear you ask, do I love listening to such people? Well since you ask so nicely if a little sheepishly, I’ll tell you: it’s because it identifies them. It identifies them as surely as if they had a Google Maps blobby pointer thingy dangling precariously above their heads. It identifies them, as people who are really bad at communicating or at least who try to deflect it away from themselves.
Consider this little quizzlett: You know the “Dummies” series of books (“The Dummies guide to Java”, “The Dummies guide to toilet training your Warthog”) etc. well what do you think “The Dummies guide to Dodging Having to Communicate” might say on page one? Yes I know is doesn’t actually exist – I haven’t written it yet, but if it did? Well actually of course there would be twenty odd pages of Contents and Chapter summaries and a beautifully crafted piece about what a great guy the author is (and I might have actually written that bit by the way). But yes, you, the boy at the back with the nose-ring and tutu? Speak up…..
Exactly. Once the narrative started it would proffer the following guidance as to how to dodge having to actually communicate:
- Talk about the importance of communication – a lot and
- Ask lots of questions.
Very good indeed boy. Come see me at break time when you can sit on my lap and have an extra bottle of milk.
You see, by following this simple two-step plan, you will easily manage to:
a) Appear to be the great communications orator
b) Keep the other person(s) occupied so that hopefully they don’t notice what’s going on
c) Deflect anyway from yourself any pressure or need to actually give away anything of yourself.
In other words, you will be “facilitating” communication by the other person(s) without actually having to communicate yourself.
And as such, you will therefore glean information. Possible a lot of dross along with it, but information nonetheless. And what does the acquisition of information about someone give us? Anybody? Yes, you, the girl with pigtails and the skirt of an inappropriate length?
That’s right. Information gives us power. Or at least the appearance of power. Very good dear, come and see me at lunchtime, when you too can sit on my lap. And trust me, there will be milk!
Yes the acquisition of information gives us the feeling of power. And why would somebody feel the need to give themselves a feeling of power? Anyone who’s got to Freud, page three can answer this: Yes that’s right: Performing actions that are designed specifically to give us a feeling of power is our way of compensating for our feelings of insecurity. I can see I’m going to have get more milk!
So the next time somebody starts talking about the importance of communication and stating the very obvious, ask yourself why they feel they need to do that? What are they masking? Why is this communication exchange so one-sided?
Now, who can I tempt to a jammy ring?