The New Golden Rule of Communication: 'Self Is Always Coming Through'

Relationships
The New Golden Rule of Communication: 'Self Is Always Coming Through'
We’ve all heard the statistic that up to 93% of our communication consists of non-verbal cues. It’s often said that body language, facial expressions and vocal tonality are the most important factors - and that the actual words that we say can count for as little as 7%. However, new discoveries show that these non-verbal cues might also have to take a back seat when it comes to the most important aspect in communication.
‘‘
What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The recent discovery of a group of neurons in the frontal lobes of the brain have shown that humans are capable of literally adopting another person’s point of view. These mirror neurons allow us to sense and experience another person’s actions, feelings and intentions, irrespective of the words or body language being displayed.

Initial Breakthrough with Monkeys

The initial breakthrough in the discovery of mirror neurons came in the 1980s, when neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, of the University of Parma was exploring the functions of ordinary motor command neurons, using monkeys as subjects. His team monitored the response in the frontal lobes of their brains upon performing a series of tasks, such as reaching for a peanut or banana.

They quickly noticed something surprising - as they picked up a peanut to hand to the monkey, the motor command neurons in the monkey would fire. These were the same motor command neurons that would fire when the monkey itself grasped the peanut.

From Monkeys to Humans

It was thought that this could explain how and why we sense other people’s feelings and empathize with them. If watching and then performing that action could activate the same parts of the brain - down to a single neuron - then watching and performing an action could also elicit the same feelings in humans.

The next step was to identify these neurons in humans. In April 2010, Dr. Itzhak Fried (professor of neurosurgery at UCLA) was for the first time able to make a direct recording of mirror neurons in the human brain.

The concept might be simple, but its implications are far-reaching. Because these mirror neurons fire both when performing and watching the action, this “mirroring” could be the neural mechanism by which the actions, intentions and emotions of other people are automatically understood in the human brain. This neural mechanism is involuntary and automatic, and thus we don't actively think about what it is that other people are doing or feeling - we simply know.

From Actions to Feelings

Many of the most interesting questions that are raised by this concept cannot be answered by motor neurons alone. Researchers now want to understand how it is we perceive other people's emotions, not only judging by their actions.

It is now understood that this ‘mirroring’ is the mechanism by which we empathize with others, effectively reading each others minds. It explains how we feel each other’s pain and how we can discern a genuine smile from a ‘Pan-American’ smile.

While our literal words, facial expressions and actions do carry our message, it seems that how we actually feel as we present them will always shine through much more strongly.

Mirror Neurons as the Basis for Culture and Civilization

Research over the past decade has suggested that mirror neurons might work to explain not only empathy, but the evolution of human civilisation as we know it. Psychologist V.S. Ramachandran stated that their discovery was the ‘single most important unpublicized story of the decade’.
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The discovery of mirror neurons in the frontal lobes of monkeys, and their potential relevance to human brain evolution is the single most important “unreported” (or at least, unpublicized) story of the decade. I predict that mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology.

~V.S. Ramachandran

Throughout the process of human evolution, we can see a sudden emergence and rapid spread of a number of skills unique to humans. Skills such as tool use, the use of fire and the development of language occurred (evolutionarily speaking) within a very short space of time.

The emergence of a sophisticated mirror neuron system that allowed emulation and imitation of other’s actions and feelings meant that a sudden accidental discovery was able to spread rapidly across a population, producing a shift in the evolutionary process from Darwinian to Lamarckism.

How Does This All Relate To Your Relationships?

‘‘
In trusting that the self is always coming through, we can trust that there isn’t anything that we have to ‘do’ in order to express ourselves.
The new golden rule of communication is that ’the self is always coming through’. Our internal feelings are always being subcommunicated, no matter what we do to try to hide it. Any attempt to hide your feelings will produce an incongruence and you will come across as insincere.

What we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do. In trusting that the self is always coming through, we can trust that there isn’t anything that we have to ‘do’ in order to express ourselves.

Adding to this, it seems that we feel what others around us are feeling. When we are feeling positive, others around us will literally internalise this feeling and feel good in our presence. Similarly, if we are nervous or intimidated, others will feel this too and they will do anything to avoid experiencing it (or you) again.
‘‘
…the best option is to embody the attributes that you want to encourage in others. By doing this, they will internalize your mental attitude naturally and much more powerfully.

We can see therefore that in influencing others, the best option is to embody the attributes that you want to encourage in others. By doing this, they will internalize your mental attitude naturally and much more powerfully. This is what it means to be a leader.

How Does This Impact The Personal Development Industry?

Much of the human and public relations advice of the past 50 years focuses on ‘doing’. It is concerned with executing quick-fix influence techniques, power strategies and communication skills – acting as social band-aids to address acute problems (and sometimes even appearing to solve them temporarily) - but still leaving the underlying chronic problems untouched to fester and resurface time and time again.

Other parts of the ‘doing’ approach are clearly manipulative - encouraging people to use techniques to get other people to like them, to fake interest in the hobbies of others to get out of them what they want, to use the “power look,” or to intimidate their way through life.

The idea of having to execute any technique neglects the fundamental truth that ‘the self is always coming through’. There are basic principles of effective living, and people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate the correct principles into their actual character.
‘‘
The idea of having to execute any technique neglects the fundamental truth that ‘the self is always coming through’. There are basic principles of effective living, and people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate the correct principles into their actual character.

In most one-shot or short-lived human interactions, you can use the ‘doing’ approach to get by and to make favourable impressions through charm and skill and quick, easy techniques that may work in short-term situations. But these traits alone have no permanent worth in long-term relationships.

Eventually, if there isn’t deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the challenges of life will cause true motives to surface and human relationship failure will replace short-term success.
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