As I was working on NaturalDogBlog yesterday, I heard a single sound that changed everything in that moment for me: “da”. I glanced over at my son, who had been nearly asleep as he lay nursing in my wife’s lap, but who now was looking up at me with the biggest sleepy smile. I smiled back at him, then turned back to my writing. Tapping away on the keys, words spilling out onto the screen – suddenly “da” again, and Dashiell is looking up at me with those big blue eyes, his irresistable toothless grin. His strategy was working just as intended, apparently. I leaned over and planted a sideways kiss on the bridge of his nose – slow, and deliberate.
As I moved towards the computer (I have a job to do, dontcha understand, son?), Dash uttered a completely new word: “uh!” – a short, aspirated syllable that clearly bore meaning. I stopped and looked at him, at his smile, and I took a guess – maybe he wanted another kiss? So I leaned forward and planted another one on the bridge of his nose, right between those big eyes. I moved back, we looked at each other intently, and there was this strange pause where I could tell that some new understanding was developing.
And then he said it: “uh!” – with an expectant look on his face. I kissed him again…backed away…pause…
“uh!” – I kissed him again. This time he let out a giggle of delight. So did I.
“uh!” – kiss – pause – “uh!” – kiss – pause…
It was real communication! Clear. Precise. Understanding developing between the beings who are communicating – not an understanding of the literal *words* (I mean, Dash – come on, the word is “kiss”) but a mutual behind-the-scenes knowing that you feel. And if the communicating is meant to elicit a particular response, that response is given exactly as desired.
He probably “got it” long before, but in that moment I saw my son GET it.
How many times have you asked a question and gotten the response to a totally different question? Are you saying what you really mean? Is the message getting across? Take the time to assess whether or not your communication style is working for you. What is the desired result? What are you getting instead?
As you interact with others, pause to reflect on whether or not true communication is happening. Clarify for yourself what you’re trying to communicate. Keep your message simple. Unambiguous. How else are you going to get that kiss on the nose?