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Communication Beyond Language

If there is one key skill in professional and daily life alike, is the communication skill and I don’t think there is anyone doubting it. While the communication is normally broken down in verbal and non-verbal, I have come to realise there are more layers of communication than these two.


Seven layer of communication

While we use a language (speaking or sign language), each person who is communicating also has his own style of communication which is deeply rooted in his culture. For example while the nodding in one culture, means "yes" in one culture, for another culture, it can mean, "I hear you".

Another layer of communication is role-based, it could be your professional role or the role you have in the context you are communicating in. For example the language of an engineer being “problem finding and solving”, while the language of financial controller is being “profit and loss”

Beneath that, there is also the game the two parties are in, whether it is a collaborative or competitive game, it will affect the vocabulary, tone and the direction of the communication. Imagine one is assume he is in a collaborative game, while the other one is competing game.


Total of Seven, Six of them hidden

The layer below is the final statement the two parties want to have or the way they define the closure of the discussion. You probably have met someone who have to say the final word and if you say another final word, he will make sure to say one more thing after you.

Another layer below that is the way you two are perceiving a system, if a system is like a puzzle, pieces fit together, or like Russian dolls, smaller component fits in the bigger one, or if the world is composed of bunch of irrelevant components

Last but definitely not the list is the universal language, if you don't say a word, in total silence and without any exchange of words or sign, you would communicate something. Could be only through eye contact, (well after all there is a believe in love at first sight, and a lot of life long relations built on) that there is an exchange happening in total silence.


Communication Challenges

In normal daily interactions, if there is no common language (speaking or sign), it is obvious that communication will be limited. It is however easy to forget all the other six layers of communication once the two parties are speaking the same language.

Cultural differences that if you make a parallel with speaking language, even though two people are speaking the same language, one may have Spanish-cultural beneath the words and the other one Japanese-cultural meaning behind the same words.

In fact, the mismatch somewhere in the six communication mediums beyond the language is the true source of mis-communication between two.

So next time you are irritated by someone or you feel misunderstood, care enough for yourself first and consequently for the other person, to check out the other layers of communication, to see where is the mismatch. Maybe one of you is speaking Spanish and the other one is speaking Japanese and you don't even recognising it.

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