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The Art Of Communication

When we interact with someone and the result of this interaction is that the other person walks away with more ways of seeing the world available to them than they had before, then it is also the case that – via this interaction – we have also increased the number of ways that we have of seeing the world. It is impossible for this ‘expansion of possibilities’ not to work both ways, in other words – it always works both ways.




When we interact with someone in such a way that we decrease (or ‘limit’) the ways that this person has to see the world then we do the same thing to ourselves. In limiting them we are ourselves limited; in controlling them we ourselves are controlled. There is no way that we can ‘decrease the essential openness’ of another person without also decreasing our own openness. There is – in other words – no way that we can be violent towards other people without also being violent towards ourselves. Aggression (which is to say, ‘the lack of communication’) always works both ways, just as communication does…




The art of all human relationship is therefore for both people to mutually increase the number of ways that they both have available for seeing the world, (and seeing themselves) but without specifically intending this. Our concern is not to become more open ourselves as a result of the encounter, but this is nevertheless the (unintended) consequence. Our intention is not to increase the number of ways available for the other person (or ourselves) to see the world – our only concern is to find a way of communicating honestly.




The result of all genuine communication is that we become ‘more open’ in our outlook, but this is not something we can make a goal of. The ‘aim’ of all communication is increased openness, but this is not an aim that comes from the head. The ‘head’ (or ‘thinking mind’) never has any interest in increasing openness (or enriching and diversifying our mode of interacting with the world – if it did this then it would drown in that increased richness! It would have to ‘relinquish its framework’ and this is the one thing it never wants to do…




To genuinely communicate (in this ‘unintended’ or ‘unintentional’ sense) is the hardest thing there is. To bring about a greater degree of openness is the hardest thing there is. The state of openness is the hardest thing to bring about because we neither know what it is nor where to look for it. What’s more – as we’ve just said – the thinking mind is working against us every step of the way… Openness is the hardest thing to bring about precisely because there is no way we can do this deliberately or ‘on purpose’ – deliberation and purposefulness always come from the closed mind…




There is nothing more difficult than communication because in order to communicate we have to risk losing the territory that we (mistakenly) think we have already gained, and we are very much averse to taking this risk! We will never deliberately take this risk. Instead of communicating therefore we prefer to impose our own framework of meaning on everyone we meet because this is the way to avoid taking any ontological risk. There is nothing more difficult than relating honestly to another person because at the same time as relating to anther we must also relate honestly to ourselves, and this is the one thing that we don’t want to do…






Art: Eduardo Martinez




Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.
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