What is the Language of Communication
We shook hands.
“Yo, what’s up?” I said. I leaned back against a locker and looked down at my shoes before returning eye contact. When we talked we always seemed to be feeling each other out at the same time. He gave my shoes a glance as well, which I wanted him to.
“Nothing much.” he replied. “We’re probably about to dip. You could come or just chill later.”
“Depends what’s going on, I’ll text you.” I told him, as I turned, and continued to walk down the hall and towards the exit of my high school.
This is how I feel the way people at school usually talk. It does a good job portraying an outline of the typically dull and boring conversations we have, with the people we claim to be close friends with. This isn’t true about everyone, but there are some people we see almost everyday, and yet we still are not completely comfortable speaking the way we want around them. We build a character in ourselves, for each person we communicate with, each with a unique set of physical and verbal qualities. It could be the gestures we use, the different words we use, or especially the tone of our voices, depending upon who we are with. It is the filters we put on our own speech, depending on our circumstances, as well as our attitude and what we desire to get from the conversation, that determine the characteristics of our relationships. So, there are many details that drive the way we communicate, including comfort, our persona, and attitude.
Comfort is a very important part of speech. It provides confidence and clarity. If in a given situation, you naturally have the courage to speak a lot, then you are probably very comfortable letting your voice be heard. Comfort is very powerful in speech as well. It allows the speaker to think clearly, so they can word their message in the most clear and persuasive way. For example, if someone is giving a presentation, if they stay level headed and do as they practice, they are far more likely to succeed. This applies to any time someone is speaking. Although they may be nervous still, the more comfortable they are, the better.
The way we speak is very important to ourselves. Whether it be an accent, dialect, or another part of our speech that is specific to us, we take any comments about it very personally and are very insecure. Gloria Anzaldúa, a cultural scholar, says “ [...]so, if you want to really hurt me, talk badly about my language.” Insult someone’s speech, and they will feel personally attacked. Our voice is our identity and when the way we talk is criticized it can make us feel illegitimate and we lose our voice. When I speak, I sound very normal to myself. I have even recorded myself speaking to listen to my voice outside my head, and have found that my voice is somewhat naturally monotone, which I don’t mind since it will not stand out in an unusual way. However sometimes it makes me feel bored or boring. For instance, I always looked up to people who could keep a crowd entertained and make them feel, whether it be laughter or excitement, they were enjoyable to be around. Because of this, whenever someone ignored me, I felt that I was being boring, and that I needed to prove myself as fun. This sometimes could lead to anxiety, with me getting nervous and over thinking what I would say next and how I would say it next time I saw a specific person.
However I have learned to speak with more emotion, and this problem doesn’t exist so much now. I think something that has really helped me with presentations. No one wants to hear a robot spew facts at them. They want to listen to and feel the power of a story, so I used presentations as a way to practice speaking with emotion. I mean by this, speaking in a way where I change the tone of my voice, and show in my face that I care about what I have to say, because if I do not, neither will others.
How we display our image of ourselves is another huge part of interactions. Body language is one major theme of our persona. If we are slouched over and facing away or smiling and nodding understandingly, it completely changes the way you come off. The former appears cocky but not confident, while the latter makes one seem empathetic and trustworthy. I used to find hand gestures and other body language silly because I thought that if no sound was coming out then it was fruitless. However, I now know that an important part of all speech is physical. Like how when I leaned against the locker with my shoes forward, I was showing that I was more interested in myself than my friend who was talking because I wanted him to notice me and I showed that I wasn’t watching him.
One more very important towards how we use language is our attitude. This is similar to our persona and is encompassed in some areas, but there are a few main aspects that stand apart. First is our intentions when we start a conversation. If we are trying to pitch an idea we will talk very positively about what we are saying, however if we are complaining we will speak in a mumbled and low tone. Our attitude comes off sometimes by accident when we internalize ideas and then talk about them. Sometimes, stubbornness can come from attitude. If there is a preconceived notion in someone’s mind that something is true or more important than something else, there is a tendency in people to ignore the information given to them regardless of it’s value because they are only able to accept what they went in trying to show. Furthermore, having pre-existing ideas about a person can change your attitude when talking to them.
I remember this happened to me once. Back at my old elementary school, I admit that I could be a trouble maker. Nothing serious, but I would be called into the office, along with a few friends, more than anyone else. This bad reputation ended up hurting. It was lunch time, when
Ms. Debbie walked up to the table I sat at, to say “Ethan, I’m going to have to pull you to the side for a moment.” I had no idea what this could be about. What have I done wrong? I’m fairly certain this is a mistake. Then she asked me what I had for lunch that day. I said, “I had the hot lunch” which referred to whatever the main cooked meal had been that day. She gave me a suspicious look, and gestured towards me to follow her out of the cafeteria. We arrived in the principal's office. The principal told me that there had been chips stolen from the cafeteria. To this day I’m not sure why I was suspected. Perhaps someone gave them a false. Regardless, I believe if I had a good reputation, I would not have been judged that way, and it would had been a simple, “Did you steal” question, without all the mishegoss I had to go through, because of how I was viewed.
Also part of attitude, there is reciprocal behavior. Depending on how past interactions have went, there could be hostile or positive attitudes shown. I know if I feel negatively about someone, because they have done me wrong, when I see them next I will vengefully, and with a negative attitude.
To reiterate, the language of communication is very complex, and is comprised of many details. Some of the larger ones that shape our relationships the most are how relaxed we feel when speaking, which determines what information we are willing to release, as well as how others perceive, as well as our personalities, which are unique and define us socially. Together, these things encompass a large majority or how we all communicate.