If you could communicate with an ant the way you do a human being, do you think that could make you more fully imagine the world from an ant’s perspective? If I had a machine that let you talk to a dog and ask it ANYTHING you want, would you give it a shot? I would. Curiosity and all that jazz.
It didn’t kill the cat. It made him awesome.
This isn’t about ants, dogs, or awesomely curious cats, though it’d be pretty damn amazing to speak with any of them. I just find it interesting that many people don’t exhibit the same level of curiosity with other human beings who are perfectly capable of speaking.
This is actually going to be something on which I touch in my book, but I’ll share it here as well. Follow me on this.
The reason we treat dogs like dogs is because we can’t speak with them. We can communicate in broad strokes, of course. For example, the fact that your dog runs up and tries to lick you when you come home from work is a pretty good indicator of affection to some degree. On the other hand, your dog can’t tell you anything specific.
Like the fact that he hates that picture you took of him wearing sunglasses. He was feeling bloated that day.
Yet somehow, a person can own a dog a have an exceedingly loving relationship. Or a person knows when a dog doesn’t like them. All achieved with broad strokes of communication.
Now, let’s look at the way people communicate. We don’t focus on broad strokes of communication that’s found in body language because we have nuance. We have words that describe in detail many objects and ideas. However, human language is incomplete in its preciseness, yet that fact is often ignored. We rely on language as if it is infallible; the reality is, spoken/written language should be a means to add nuance rather than replace the broad strokes.
I remember watching an episode of The Dog Whisperer (sorry, Niri) and Cesar Millan was working with a dog that had food aggression issues. He noted that the dog was not using its nose in the way a normal dog would and it was too focused on the food itself. The same held true for a dog that was scared of a washing machine for no good reason.
Or maybe his reason was that he really, really hates doing dishes.
I’m with ya, buddy.
The dogs had to unlearn those habits in order to become dogs once more. They were then able to communicate with their “owners” as they once did, before they developed their respective issues.
I have 3 points before I wrap up. Pay attention, kids.
1. Most people know how to talk, but not everyone knows how to communicate.
I’ve been on this kick regarding language and how it screws up the way we interact. I’m going to revise that. The way we use it as a species is flawed. We rely on spoken language in a way that assumes one can express almost anything with it. We trust it to a point where we don’t even question dictionaries. Weird, right?
We question people, but not the language which was created by… people.
This brings me to my next point…
2. Many conflicts occur because of things that cannot be explained verbally.
What’s the word for the feeling of being so absolutely content that you would kill yourself because you felt as if you had nothing more to accomplish? Should that feeling not exist because there isn’t a word for it?
I love my girlfriend more than ANYTHING in this world. No, seriously. No one matters more. Not even you. Unless this is her reading this, heh. I feel like our energies are intertwined. What’s the word for the sensation felt when someone else’s energy touches yours?
Am I crazy because there’s no word for it?
Fuck you! I know what I felt! Yada yada…
It goes like that ALL the time. How many times have you felt a certain way, but an argument develops as you try to explain it to someone? They use their limited perspective of the world along with an incomplete language to tell YOU how YOU should feel.
Or they try to re-explain your feelings.
Or they attack you.
And you attack them.
Oh, look; a vicious cycle! Now imagine it on a larger scale. Not too difficult for you to see past this BS, I hope. Good, because it’s time for my third point.
3. Reteaching the reading of body language could revolutionize how we communicate
The funny thing about body language is, it reveals more about a person than their words ever will. There is so much subtlety in body language that can never be expressed with words. Why can you tell the difference between a forced smile and a genuine one? Is there a word for that difference? No. But still, you know what it is, even if spoken language doesn’t have a word for it.
But… wh-wha? Words are always right! Right?
Try it sometime. Look at body language along with listening to words. Observe it during times when someone is trying to explain the near-unexplainable. Add a dash of empathy and you’ll start to see the truth: we already know the right way to communicate. We’ve always known. We’re simply too focused on words.
Stop trying to communicate and just communicate.
Peace out, party people.