Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Communication, like several of the needs I've blogged about, has at least two different meanings. In this case the two meanings I want to focus on are about what we say and about the technology to be able to say it at a distance.

The first meaning focuses on the process of communication. How can we communicate better? How can we make ourselves understood more clearly? All the references in my resource section refer to that kind of communication.

Actually, I think the biggest issue in this aspect of communication is less on being understood, and more on understanding others. In order to increase truly effective communication, I think there needs to be a lot less talking and a lot more listening to each other. Unfortunately, most people in this society (especially men) are encouraged to try to make themselves understood--with very little emphasis on actually pay attention to anyone else. This results in a communication that often appears to be all of us talking at each other. No real communication occurs if no one is listening.

Looking at the technology of communication might seem a little esoteric for this blog at first, but if you think about a very low energy future, it quickly becomes important to figure out what means of communication technology might be practical at that point. I doubt that cell phones have a long-term future, and I am skeptical about computers as well (the server farms that power this and other blogs use enormous amounts of energy). I am obviously a computer user--and I use it a lot--and I also have a cell phone that travels everywhere with me. Nevertheless, I don't foresee a future for either. I'm not even sure that land-line telephones will do well when we are way past peak oil.

The Archdruid (John Michael Greer) wrote an interesting post a bit over a year ago, where he speculated that amateur (ham) radio--especially radios that can be made from electronic scraps and bits of various things--might be something that could survive for quite a while. The comments to this post are worth skimming as people try to figure out lower-tech versions of the internet and one person mentions hand operated printing presses. Once upon a time, Gutenberg's press was high-tech. Who knows, it may someday be again.

Suzette Haden Elgin's Verbal Self Defense Home Page--A web page devoted to the 'The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense', a linguist's attempt to deal with 'hostile' communication
Daniel F. Perkins and Kate Fogart, "Active Listening: A Communication Tool"--Focused on listening to teenagers, this online paper gives basic information on how to do 'active listening'
Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication--A communication model that focuses on getting everyone's needs met and responding honestly, even in hostile situations, without attacking the other person; there is a Center that offers trainings and resources in this method
Deborah Tannen, That's Not What I Meant and You Just Don't Understand--These two books are a bit simplistic in places (especially You Just Don't Understand which has overtones of Women Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars) but have lots of insight into the different ways we communicate and miscommunicate and how to match your communication to another person's

Quote of the Day: "The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. ... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words." - Rachel Naomi Remen

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