Peer Voice Project

Communication and Intimacy, by Monica Marie Beckford


How well are you adapting to this present environment?

The question is purposefully simple, but vague. Hopefully you are asking, what environment? Is it work environment? School environment? Texas? Or the environment where trendy words appear then disappear with the blink of an eye? In other words, you should be asking me for clarification. When I first came to Austin, I was constantly being asked one question that used to stump me. That was, “Where are you from?” At the time I could not for the life of me know what they were asking me. While guessing I would try to figure out if they meant where was I born, where did I last live? What country am I from, or what state was I from? Hopefully you do not do what I did. I found myself constantly guessing and assuming the meaning of the question. The environment I am referring to is the environment where there is vagueness in communication. But, when you ask for clarification you accept the intimacy that comes along with “knowing” exactly what the person is meaning by the question. I have since developed the ability to ask what do you mean by that. And, it signals to me my desire to become more intimate with people.

When you ask for clarification, you accept the intimacy that comes along with fully knowing the person. Not asking for clarification is like signing a document without reading it. It is also a sign of mental agility when you can tell quickly that perhaps you do not know the person very well and that you are not speaking the same language. If you continue to not ask the meaning of their words you will continue to have only mediocre relationships. This vague communication style does not foster intimacy, or understanding, for that matter. For example, if you ask the great American author, Richard Bach what the word ‘family’ means to him he would say “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” It is a show of respect and mental agility when you quickly discern that you do not know the meaning of words or phrases being used. The environment I am referring to is where you believe in the phrase “ flexibility attracts and rigidity repels” This should not be true for words. I believe that words have specific meaning to the person using them. Someone else may have a different meaning to the same word.

Another example is before the internet the news would talk about NATO, perhaps knowing that 95% of the population did not know what the acronym stood for. But the internet allowed us to become aware that the vague communication style of the news people was getting used against us. In conclusion, I would suggest that if you want more friends and intimacy in your life you must do your best to do a little bit of investigating.  This environment is such that words are being constantly added to the dictionary.

For those of us experiencing the lack of deep friendships or a disconnect in communication, try something new. The next time someone engages you in a conversation ask at least 3 times, “exactly what do you mean by that?” In other words, what you will be saying is, “tell me more.” When you are done, you will both go away with a good feeling because you understood what just happened: Intimacy happened.  If you are dissatisfied with superficial relationships, and you are willing to do a little work and allow some intimacy – This is a good way to start.

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