[extropy-chat] Signaling and Social Markers

pjmanney pj at pj-manney.com
Sat Jan 6 05:37:04 UTC 2007

>But when it comes to personal interactions, I feel STRONGLY that I must
>present the "true Jef", and I resist biasing my word choices and style
>of communication to match my target audience, be it family members or
>friends.  Even though I can clearly see that it impairs effective
>communication, I feel strongly that I must be "real" and if I were to
>bias my style and presentation that it would be manipulative and I
>certainly wouldn't want people doing that when interacting with me.
>This has been a big roadblock for me in interacting with people I care
>about personally. They know me as sincere, intelligent,...and difficult
>to relate with.  Being someone who talks often about the wisdom of
>effective interaction, I see that I'm creating my own problem, but I
>have not yet overcome the strong sense that if I were to adjust my
>communication style and presentation when playing the role of the "real
>Jef" then I would be acting falsely.
>So, maybe there's an analogy between the clothing style one presents and
>the communication style one presents.  For me they seem very different
>in terms of values, but I can see that they each may be simply a layer
>over the self.
>As Lizbeth left for work this morning she said "Maybe holding on to who
>you are gets in the way of who you may become."

Please forgive me for getting to this so late.  I'm still wading through the deluge of communications from being in rural Wisconsin without Internet or cell service...  It was a blessing and a curse.  Like all technological ramifications!

I've been reading a lot about empathy, as you know, Jef.  And one of the primary forms of empathy we humans display is an unconscious mimicry and mirroring of speech patterns, facial expressions and body language.  We do it without realizing and those who do it more are considered more empathetic and relatable compared to those who do it less or not at all, who are considered incommunicative or unempathetic.  It's those pesky mirror neurons again!

You did it consciously as a manager and it was very effective.  But maybe the people closest to you need it, too.  Because it's not about being inauthentic.  It's about being relatable.

Maybe what these people are seeing is you being you, as opposed to 'being them.'  And they need to see more 'themselves' to understand you.

As I've said many, many times before -- We may think we speak the same, literal language, but how we take that information in and what we do with it can be radically different.  In this world, we've got be become multilingual to communicate, even with our own friends and family.  You're not being false.  You're reaching out.

And don't think for one minute that I can be completely 'myself' with anyone, including family (although my husband gets the 100%, unpasturized, real 'me' -- he bought this cow so long ago, that I grew into all the wacky facets of my identity before his eyes...).  None of us is so simplistically formed that anyone can take in all our contrary complexities without whiplash.  (And yes, I can still give him whiplash!  But I think he likes it...  ;-) )  Think of it this way: the mirroring lessens their neck strain trying to keep up with you.  And makes for smoother relationships.

Hope all is well!


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