We think of communication in terms of statements. In terms of messages, words, thoughts, opportunities not to be missed, appropriate things to say in every situation. In any case, we consider communication as something active. However, in reality communication begins a stage before that. In silence. Before any word and speech.

Most of us are in a hurry to say what we have in mind. We interrupt, we intervene and rush to offer advice or possibly criticize. We argue, analyze, make observations. Therefore, we often miss what’s important: the silence that allows us to listen or perceive with the other senses.

Research shows that about 85% of our communication is based on non-verbal cues such as glances, movements and sign language. In other words, the percentage of spoken communication is small next to the vast world of “other” expressions and behaviors. And this is precisely where the effort to communicate should begin.

It is not only words that matter. Body language, glances, facial expressions, posture, relaxed or clasped hands – they are all elements that shape communication and need to be taken in to perceive the message in its entirety.

Before we begin to express ourselves, it is important to listen. To pay attention to the surrounding atmosphere of the conversation, to the aura of our audience. To listen to the words as well as “read” between the lines. To notice whether communication is effortless or strained, whether it is coherent or spontaneous, whether everything has been prepared in advance, before a mirror, or is a reaction of that moment.

It is also important, before we speak, to help our audience express themselves. With “small” words or nods that show interest on our part. With phrases that facilitate communication, such as “do you want to talk about it?” about something difficult or “I’d like to know more”. With words that actually mean “I’m here” and “I’m listening”. With pauses and with open questions that give the other person freedom to speak. And, of course, with our silence. A kind of silence that gives the other person space to feel, to decide what and how much they want to share.

It seems obvious, but it’s not necessarily easy. In a world that revolves around online conversations, direct chats, television counter-arguments and “enforced” presence, in a world full of “noise”, communication begins in silence. And it is in silence that relationships are woven.

March 8, 2023

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