Closeness from Openness

Communication, the ability to transmit, convey and disclose information to others is more or less equally given to all of us. Communication differs by the means used, the efforts exerted and most importantly the way it is understood and perceived from one person to another. But communication also varies from one person’s ability to another’s in the use and application of the multiple methods available to us.

A couple of weeks ago the various ways of understanding communication was our topic, but I would now like to explore the reality of our actual communication. It is certain that we express our various wants and needs on a daily basis to others including our immediate family, relatives as well as friends and colleagues. Imagine standing in front of a clerk in any business entity, whether it is to purchase a product or a service and re-create the scenes in your mind. Would the clerk facing you provide you with all of the required information to begin with, without having to address the way in which the minimum is provided? Would we, facing the clerk, enquire politely and accurately regarding what we seek?

However, is transmitting, conveying and disclosing information sufficient to define as communication? Are we communicating enough with the world around us? Are we conscious communicators?

We regularly hear quotes and common sayings that highlight the importance of communication which play the role of some sort of reminders in our dealings with others. We most commonly hear that “success is led by the power to communicate” or “the art of communication is the language of leadership” and the likes making me wonder if reminding ourselves of it’s importance as well as greatness is enough without practice. By this, I mean that it seems more as if we have become experts on communicating at others instead of communicating with them. Can we evaluate our dealings with our loved ones, are we completely honest in our communication with them? Or are we intimidated by what they might think of us should we reveal our deepest thoughts and emotions? On the other hand, how do we handle others being completely honest with themselves and communicating their emotions to us? How do we use the information that has been communicated to us in secrecy or confidentially when communicating with third parties? Should ethics come into play in all of these scenarios? Do we think that we need to work on our form of communication more often?

I wonder if setting off on an observational quest and studying the communication methods we adopt in dealing with ourselves first and then others would help. It it enough to pay attention to the tone of the voice in oral communication or the words used in its written form?

If for a minute we were to consider our ability to convey our message without worrying about perception, and focus on how we communicate, what would we notice as Ethiopians? is there be a noticeable Ethiopian communication style?

How about if we started at the core or rather at our first encounter with communication – childhood.

How does a parent or a guardian communicate to a child when ordering to do, bring or take something? How do we answer their (sometimes) tiresome questions about the most menial things as well as the most difficult ones? How do we communicate our discontent regarding mistakes they continuously make? It is often too easy to forget that what we say will forge them in understanding what communication should sound and feel like. Though it is difficult to pass judgment on those raising children, is it not everyone’s responsibility to be aware of how to communicate with children. Even it this is in order to ensure that they will in turn become responsible communicators as service providing clerks, managers, leaders, family members, friends and generally as adults. As Maya Angelou once said “People will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Can we sincerely evaluate our ability to make others feel the way we would like to feel if we were in their shoes instead?

Moreover, there is a bond that is created when we open as truthfully as we can to others, a link that is difficult to explain to those unable to understand the silent communication that takes place between two people that actually communicate. It is undeniable that the more we communicate, the more we want to keep communicating because it not only makes one feel understood and accepted but also because it builds trust. In that same logic, the more we communicate the more open we become and the closer we get to our true selves but also to others. Dan Oswald summed it up nicely when he said “ Communication must be HOT; Honest, Open and Two-way”.

By Christine Yohannes
Christine Yohannes writes about social change, performs at public events and conducts poetry workshops in schools. She has established a monthly event entitled

Published on Nov 29,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 865]



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