A true measure of person is whether they can apologize or not.

If someone genuinely has wronged you — or acted like an asshole — and they can’t or don’t apologize, beware. It’s a giant, swaying red flag.

Everyone has to apologize from time to time. (Or likely should apologize, anyways.) But how best to apologize? Is there one ideal way? Or certain steps that should be followed? My answers are: Let’s talk about it, probably not, and not exactly.

Better apologies are likely to result in stronger relationships. This is interesting given that the need for apologies only arise…

“Zoom is just not the same. It never will be.” said Miss Alissa in our end-of-year parent-teacher conference.

She’s right.

Zoom calls, now everywhere thanks to the COVID pandemic, aren’t the same as communicating together with other people in shared physical space. Early 2020 onward, thus far, is plenty of evidence for that.

Everyone felt the massive shock in the shift away from direct, in-person communication to a host of different mediated forms: Zoom calls, FaceTime visits, text message exchanges, and so on. Everyone has been impacted: teachers and students, work teams, families, everyone. …

Old doors conceal a beautiful room once you have passed through their plane of influence.
Old doors conceal a beautiful room once you have passed through their plane of influence.
Pass through to a new way of thinking about “communication style.”

Lots of people believe in “communication styles.”

You shouldn’t.

Do humans have tendencies and sensitivities when communicating? Yes, definitely. We each have our own. But that does that mean you have a communication “style”? Nope.

Having a communication style is to have something you think you can’t change. And nothing, when it comes to communicating, is pre-determined. Style gives the idea that there is some set of behaviors or psychological orientations about how we communicate, instilled so deep within as if to be permanent and impossible to change.

But this isn’t how communication works. Communication styles just aren’t a thing…

Effective communication. Everyone talks about and seems to be after it.

But what is it?

What is effective communication? What does it mean to communicate effectively?

Do we really know?

Ask 100 people what “effective communication” is, and you’ll get many different answers.

It’s difficult-to-impossible to know what effective communication is because effective communication can be many things. It varies and it’s subjective. It is that tingly spider-sense feeling we get when communication is going well or we feel understood. It’s when we articulate something clearly and someone sees a point of view better. …

Everyone talks about how “openness” is important in communication, but what is openness? What does it mean “to be open” when we communicate with others?

We have to think of openness in at least two ways:

  • Openness means how much you share or are willing to share when you talk: What do you reveal about yourself? What stories do you tell? What experiences or opinions do you share? What of yourself do you put out there into the game?
  • Openness is also about a willingness to be changed in the sense that you have to be willing or vulnerable to…

Being able to ask good questions is essential to being a good communicator. Why is asking good questions important? Hey, good question! And how can we ask good questions? Look at that, another one! How are question-asking and listening related? What’s important to keep in mind when we want to ask questions?

First, you should know that people like people who ask questions. Asking many questions improves bonds and connections. Questions demonstrate interest in someone. Questions extend and lift conversations. They keep the ball rolling. …

Long exposure stars at night. Communication is as monstrous and nebulous as the universe itself.

Communication always involves other people, but making communication better begins with you.

Self-assessment is essential to improving your communication. If you can self-assess better, you’ll more easily adapt to the situations you find yourself in. Self-assessment, when it comes to communication, is both a skill and an art.

Most people don’t self-assess well, especially not when it comes to a topic as specific and as unwieldy as how you communicate. Making communication better feels as monstrous, as nebulous, and as impossible as understanding the universe. Communication’s expanse permeates life.

How can we start thinking better about the thing that makes…

100% of this guy’s communication is nonverbal. Image by Rodrigo Conceicao from Pixabay.
100% of this guy’s communication is nonverbal. Image by Rodrigo Conceicao from Pixabay.

A myth persists out there that “93% of communication is nonverbal.” See here, here, and here. These are just a few among the many articles I could find perpetuating this nonsense claim.

Whether you’re aware of this idea about communication or not, or have ever given it any thought or attention, or not, it’s been persistent. It’s a pretty common thing people say or think about how communication works. There are tweets and internet comments parroting as much. Countless business and psychology articles are littered with some version of this insight from supposed communication “experts.” …

Communication doesn’t always succeed.

But it never fails.

We talk about communication failing all the time. However, we need to recognize that an unanticipated outcome is not the same as “failure.”

Communication isn’t an on/off switch. We’re not “communicating” or “not communicating.” Communication doesn’t happen or not happen. It’s always there. You can’t not communicate.

The idea “communication doesn’t fail” probably sounds counter-intuitive. It may sound jarring. Perhaps, this runs against what you think you know about communication.

“Of course communication fails!”, you might be saying to yourself, “It fails all the time!”

Let me give an example that might…

People are obsessed with the idea of clear communication. We are told that if you can’t communicate clearly, you’ve failed.

People’s obsession with communication clarity can be downright pathological.

Maybe you have heard your boss or colleague or spouse say: “I couldn’t be more clear,” “it wasn’t clear what you meant,” or “we’re looking for clarity here.” These are just a sampling of things we regularly hear about clarity — the supposed ideal goal of communication.

Clear communication does not exist. At least not like you think it does. People think of clear communication as their point “getting across”. As…

David R. Novak PhD

Writer. Trying to explain human communication simply. Fascinated by human interaction. PhD in Communication. davidrnovak.com @davidrnovak

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