CommunicationMan is a social animal, it has often been quoted. The obvious sociological implications apart, it is a truism that cannot be wished away. Any how, it is true man is not an island and cannot possibly survive for long like one. He has a deep–felt, intrinsic need to communicate with his fellow men around him. That need is both psychological as well as practical. After all, it is man alone whom God (or call it nature if you prefer) has endowed with the faculty of speech. Yes, it has been established that animals and birds also do communicate in their own way. And it is crucial to their survival as well in as much as that it promotes social behavior, and comes in handy while finding food as well as a mate.
Human communication however, is much more complex. Given the intricacies of language and social norms that govern human behavior, communication has evolved over a period of time into a fine tapestry of varied hues representing different moods, approaches, attitudes and reactions. While, there is a socially acceptable manner of communicating, one that enjoys social sanction and community approval, there are also ways of communicating that are generally considered to be socially unacceptable. This is usually determined by the predominant value system of the era in question.
Today, youngsters use swear words freely and without any compunctions whatsoever. While elders often frown upon the usage of what they call “filthy language” or “Latrine lingo”, many who are more forward looking have come to reconcile themselves to the trend as a part and parcel of modern day existence. Some psychologists in recent times have noted the therapeutic value of swearing once in a while. They have pointed out that it helps the individual “Let off steam”. It acts as a safety valve, an outlet for pent up emotions, particularly negative feelings such as anger or frustration that builds up within. However, an overuse of swear words which youngsters tend to do these days, often defeats its purpose, if it could be accepted as a means of letting off steam at all.
The need to communicate, to convey one’s thoughts and feelings to those around is a psychological need. It is often crucial to a sound mind. Even identical twins are known to communicate with each other in their own unique way. That proves that human beings have an inborn urge to communicate. If that need is frustrated or
suppressed, the individual is unlikely to develop in a normal manner. Even extreme psychological problems such as autism could often be traced to infantile and adolescent problems pertaining to communication.
Rich parents who assume they have done their job well, so long as they’ve provided their progeny with all their material needs in great style, are often in for a rude shock. Their kids rebel and sometimes turn delinquent. The reason is simple, the children feel let down by their parents, they feel cheated. Their chief grouse is that their parents have had no time for them. That boils down to a lack of communication. And good communication alone promotes understanding, and that in turn strengthens the bonds between parents on the one hand and children on the other. When communication breaks down relationships crumble and degenerate.
Why, that’s equally true between spouses. The rising rate of divorce does not augur too well for the institution of marriage. The problem often is one of a lack of communication. Marriages may be made in heaven, but it calls for a lot of hard work right here on Earth to make it work. And sound, effective and mutually reciprocal communication is the lifeblood of any marital relationship. While saint Francis of Assisi might have prayed, “Lord, let us seek not so much to be understood than to understand”, that still remains a distant ideal. At the more practical level it is, and has got to be a two–way process. The purpose of communication is the need to be understood and to understand as well. Misunderstandings crop up when there is a lack of effective communication. And that often sours a relationship.
Most people who end up going to a psychiatrist for help realize and soon enough, how nice they feel after discussing their problem. Many are back on their feet in quick time and have no need for protracted therapy. That applies to just about anybody in more general terms as well. Talking about one’s problems and difficulties, and sharing them with near and dear ones who’d understand, makes the burdens we often carry so much lighter. It promotes a feeling of well being in the individual concerned. It makes problems seem so small and insignificant. Our difficulties, the heavy yoke we tend to carry all the time, becomes lighter and does not seem all that threatening after all.
One of the worst forms of incarceration devised by man remains solitary confinement. That is reducing an individual to an island. It is burning all the bridges of communication he has built with people around him and building walls around him instead. That can be a harrowing experience. No wonder so many individuals who emerge from solitary confinement lose that sense of proportion and go insane. Others suffer from psychosomatic disorders that eventually begins to tell on their physical health as well.
Hence, communication channels need to be kept open constantly. That promotes understanding between individuals and builds relationships. And that in turn affects the quality of life an individual enjoys. That is the key to a healthy and happy life when one’s mind retains its balance and one does not lose one’s sense of proportion.