How we process information determines the quality of our intimate relationships. There are three principles that govern this idea: 1. One cannot not behave. 2. One cannot not communicate. 3. The MEANING of a given behavior is not the TRUE meaning of the behavior; HOWEVER it is the TRUE MEANING for the person who has given it a particular meaning.
Principal one says we can never do nothing because even the so called doing nothing is doing something. Try to do nothing, try not to behave and if I am watching you I will say "you are doing something" because of what I am seeing at this moment…now hang on a moment.
Principal two follows naturally and I am communicating all the time. How many times have you said, "We just don't communicate"? All that this means is the communication at the verbal level is not very satisfying…but non verbal communication IS taking place and MEANING is given to the behavior even if the behavior is silence.
Now to the big one, Principal Three, which states that a particular behavior may be given multiple interpretations and that one interpretation is NO more correct (nor incorrect) than any other. Personal reality is subjective and how I create my reality will be formed from my assumptions and my particular frame of reference. However, it is only my perception…and that may or may not match your perception and for each of us that perception is equally 'true' and equally valid.
In addition to these three principals we need to understand that communication occurs in three modes; verbal, non-verbal and the context. The verbal is simply the words I use. The non verbal is my voice inflection, tone, facial expressions etc. The context is when I said what I said, why you think I said what I said, and where I said what I said.
When we mention communication breakdowns we usually are referring to the context and the meaning we give a particular piece of communication.