Communication problems arise in many ways to plague our relationships, from speaking indirectly, being distracted, and misunderstanding context all the way to abusive outbursts. We all come from a unique context that colors how we understand and communicate with others: some of us have brains that find it difficult to interpret figurative language; some of us come from families where we are expected to be loud and boisterous; some of us are from communities that that find it rude to ask direct questions. When we add emotional interpretations to how we communicate—like “they don’t respect me” or “I’m so stupid because I misunderstood”—we can shut down, lash out, or become passive-aggressive. Improving our communication skills always starts with listening: both to other people and our own assumptions. We’ve started gathering valuable information on this topic, but haven’t yet curated the findings.
Stepping back from emotional and physical chaos to reach a state of calm, clear-headed thinking is the bedrock of Stoicism, a philosophy famously practiced by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Learn more in this Knowledge@Wharton interview with author and psychotherapist Donald Robertson.