Why You Cannot NOT Communicate (no matter how hard you might try)

15 Oct

Here’s a fun game to start your Monday morning. I challenge you to ASK for a cup of coffee, and not communicate while doing so; don’t speak any language, don’t motion your body, don’t shift your eyes between the coffee machine and your mug. You need to get that coffee, and you aren’t allowed to communicate that message.

Okay, I can wait. Go give this a shot.

Waiting . . .

Have you gone yet?

If you’re back from this challenge (in which case I highly applaud you for playing the game) with a coffee, then I deeply urge you to share with us your secret in the comments section, because most people won’t succeed in getting their morning java.

If you never left to perform the challenge, then hey – I don’t blame you at all. How on earth can you ask for a coffee if you are not allowed to communicate.

The truth of the matter is: You Cannot Not Communicate.  Even standing by a coffee machine and acting like a frozen mannequin is a form of communication – not about coffee, but about how you’re feeling in that moment (a little stressed, perhaps, for lack of the caffeine!)

Communication happens in all kinds of ways:

  • Verbally
  • Body Language like your posture, your hand and arm placement, etc.
  • Facial expressions
  • Actions you make

Communication also happens as you fail to respond to others, don’t match your body language to the experience you want to share, don’t respond to a person talking by looking at their face, and not giving any action whatsoever – whether it  be an unanswered email, or an unanswered question . . . you are still communicating a message, and most likely you are insulting someone.

Golden Monday Morning Nugget of Wisdom (grabbed from ‘Live Your Dreams’ by Roger Ellerton)

You cannot not communicate . . .

[Diane can tell you all about that]

Now here’s a Sister Leadership spin. Often times when you are not communicating yet still communicating, the message about what you really want can become muddled. People might misinterpret your silence as acceptance or lack of understanding, when the truth is you have an excellent idea and you’re just too nervous to share, or don’t want to feel the shame of being wrong.

How do you gain control of your voice? How can  you choose your message?

Imagine if Rapunzel had said to the wandering Prince, “Hey, take me with you right now because I’ve had enough of living in the tower,” or to the witch: “Lady, I know you love me but I am going to resent you if you never let me be free.”  Gosh, how much easier would her life have been?

I think in many ways, it’s easier to fight for other people’s rights than speak up for our own- we can go all ‘momma tiger’ when our loved ones or team are threatened . . . but can wilt under pressure as our own battle needs to be fought.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was a huge challenge to ask for and accept help. That was a situation where desperation pushed me forward to finally give in and speak for my needs, but it was difficult. What’s up with that reaction?

Personally, I believe it’s about self esteem, and feeling safe within yourself to become vulnerable. If you can push aside the fear of being weak, the fear of being wrong, the fear of being assertive . . . wow, communication is suddenly going to start heading in your favour.

So how to get started? A friend of mine Diane (remember her from the previous post?) is hosting a great workshop next November 24th in Embrun, Ontario on perception and communication. She’ll take you through exercises and situations where your ability to communicate is going to be strengthened. If you want to reach her, here’s a link to her page.

Until next week, why not have some fun and challenge someone to not communicate? Watch what happens, and make note of what their body says even when they’re actively trying to be silent. It’s both funny and educational!

Hello off from France, (though coming back to Canada soon!)



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