the “underbelly” of communication

Quoting from a recent email from a commgrad:
“…how many times have we read in self-help books or heard from business people that direct communication is key to success? Well, that’s not true. Lying, manipulating, and pretending are what are really key to success. How many times have you asked someone you know at work or at school if there’s a problem and that person looks at you, smiles, shakes her head and says “Oh, no, everything’s fine” when you know damn well that everything is not fine. Is that person simply using tact and discrimination in handling conflict or is she just trying to avoid the possibility of having a discussion in which she has to say things the social environment tells us we can’t say (e.g. “I don’t like you”; “You get on my nerves”; “I think your opinions are born of ignorance”; “I resent you”; “you turn me off when you talk about…”; “You remind me of someone else I hate,” etc.). In fact, the dominant discourse on such “negative” perceptions and feelings insists that it is wrong to feel or think this way and it is especially wrong to communicate these feelings. However, what does covering up these truths really do for our relationships? Are we really better off when we only accentuate the so-called positive in human communication? Is there a way to shift the interpersonal landscape so that backbiting, backstabbing, and gossip become unnecessary? I feel that people backstab because they can’t frontstab. Backstabbing is born out of the norms or rules of social interplay, which constitute a type of repression.”

One thought on “the “underbelly” of communication”

  1. Interesting to think about the difference between “backstabbing” and “deception”. For instance, a recent gaffe (?) at a public lecture was almost uniformly dismissed by my students as simply a thing that happened. Their comments on my confession
    illustrate a rather blase attitude toward the use of deception as a teaching tool, and the trouble (of fear of such?) that can transpire when attempting to remedy misunderstandings in groups…..

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