What is this thing we call “cosmopolitan communication?” This was one of the many points raised recently at a gathering of interculturalists aspiring to make better social worlds by facilitating cross-cultural communication. There is something sophisticated in the sound of the word “cosmopolitan” as it raises images of people communicating in ways that go beyond instrumentality. Something else is taking place here in this word that has an alluring appeal to it. Possibly because we experience our communication in less than optimal ways we seek to improve it. Even if we are in coordination with others and fostering healthy and constructive relationships, isn’t there always room for improvement?
What kind of world would we be creating if people spoke to each other in a cosmopolitan form of communication? What are some of the characteristics associated with the term and what could we expect in this type of conversation? For one, there would be mutual respect demonstrated through intent listening and caring. You would be able to feel the other person being present in the space that you and your conversation partner encompass. The non-verbal expressions and gestures would be in sync with the comments being made and appropriate to the tone and content of what you are communicating. The person’s responsiveness would encourage you to want to continue to engage as your relationship reaches new levels of coordination. And all of this would be met with reciprocity so that you, too, are present for the other person.
This really is a familiar feeling we have all experienced at least once in our lives (I am setting the bar low!). What was it that the other person was doing that made me want to open up, trust him/her and engage? What was I doing to encourage this and how did I respond so that in our turn taking we continued this pattern?
It would be really helpful if we could demystify this complex process known as communication so that if our intentions are to improve, we at least know how to take the first step. OK, your turn.