Building Trusted Relationships
Aug 18, 2014
Have you ever observed a mother and child communicate with each other? Without any verbal communication, a child and mother can totally empathize with each other and enjoy an emotional bond. This level of communication is called Total Communication.
On the other extreme of the spectrum is a form of communication that each one of us experience, on a daily basis, at work. When we walk the corridors of our workplace we come across people who we are familiar with, because we happen to see them on a daily basis. Typical communication that happens between them is a respectful smile with a slight nod and they reciprocate willingly. This level of communication can sustain for years on with both parties making no attempt to elevate the relationship to the next level. This is called greeting level communication.
The immediate next level from this extreme is factual level communication. Two people meet and talk to each other. However most of the conversations are about the weather, sports and other factual stuff. A factual level relationship will carefully glide around anything personal and will continue to remain at a superficial level.
The next level communication is a relationship where ideas (idea level communication) are shared. When you share a point of view or an idea with another person and you also provide an opportunity for the other person to judge you. When you say “I like the XYZ political party and will support them big time”, your counterpart listening to you can form opinions about you as a person. We humans are wary of this. Most of us want to portray a socially respectable image given any context. Observe that it does not usually lead to any judgment when you talk about neutral facts like “New York weather" or "cricket scores in yesterday’s big game that got played". We tend to elevate our level of communication to idea level with others only when we enjoy some level of trust and confidence in them.
Adjacent to this level is the feeling level communication. We do share our feelings openly with only those we trust significantly and know that we will get their empathy. Imagine you go for treatment to a doctor and the doctor does not even ask you how you feel. He or she instead does a series of diagnostic tests, prescribes the medicine and shoo you out of the consulting room. Is this person likely to get repeat audience from you? We seem to prefer those practitioners who first tend to listen patiently on how we feel and empathize with us.