I've been thinking a lot today about how people communicate. Okay, fine - I think about it a lot, in general.
So much of what we say to each other, we don't say at all. It's remarkable, really. There's a huge amount of nonverbal cues that go back and forth in even the smallest, most casual exchange. There are these things called meta-messages, right? They're about context. They're what we're really saying, or what we're hearing others say. Note, though - the meta-message that's sent and the one that's received are often not the same. And then you factor in pheromonal signals and other subconscious cues, and it's amazing that we ever communicate anything correctly.
I was thinking about this today after a conversation this morning with a friend of mine. He reminds me a lot of an ex I have, who always seemed to speak in metaphor. He'd tell me stories about his house, his work, his family, which would always be code for how he was feeling and what he was thinking about me, himself, us. It was a lot of effort for me to decipher that, but validating and satisfying when I did, which is part of what kept me there. I was always on my toes with him, which, let's face it, wasn't always where I wanted or needed to be.
My friend at work is much the same way (which is, let's face it, why our friendship is a little complicated). The difference, here, though, is that I've evolved a bit, and I spend less time worrying about if I got it right with him and more time looking at what's going on. I spend more time thinking about what I'm telling him. I pay a lot of attention to this stuff, and I still think I only have a minute inkling of what's actually transpiring.
It really is a miracle we ever communicate anything, ever.