As a communication major, I have always taken seriously the importance of good communication. Those that have worked with me will certainly agree that I have consistently emphasized good communication. “Poor communication” or “lack of communication” is among the top critiques from me regarding opportunities for improvement.

Communication is the art of exchanging information and ideas.

More importantly, effective communication focuses more on the actual receipt of the message that is sent. In work and personal life we constantly focus on the importance of communication. Especially in relationships whether between leaders and subordinates or between spouses and in families.

What do we do once the message has been received? It seems that we have to start all over again for the next message. While we have established “effective communication” we still lack a connection.

Recently this idea of shifting from communicating to creating connections has changed my outlook on communication. A connection is, at its basis, to establish communication. But it is also about joining, uniting or bonding. To be united is to be in a mutual state of opinion or understanding.

Ultimately each of us has a basic need and desire for good relationships with other people.

The empirical data for connecting with others is without question. While I’m certainly not a scholar, I’m convinced when we focus more on the relationship or connection, our communication will greatly improve.

Often we establish our own rules for how well we communicate with each other. As long as you follow these certain rules, we’ll get along well. “We would have communicated well, but you forgot to do this…” “You know I don’t respond well in these types of situations” Certainly you have your own list. “Don’t bother me before I have coffee.” “Don’t bother me when I’m watching a game!” “Don’t you know this is my day off…?” What are your excuses for not communicating well?

I have started to focus more on the individual than how I communicate. There are some people that are simply easy to be around and others that take every special effort to stay civil.

When your cell phone rings, how do you react?

Since you have caller ID and most of your popular contacts saved in your contacts, you can easily determine how to respond to the caller. When you glance at your phone a number of thoughts go through your mind. Were you waiting for that person to call? Have you been avoiding that call? Is the love of your life calling? Is it a bill collector? That annoying friend? A blocked call?

In contrast, do you remember how we used to answer the phone before caller-ID? Ok, for those of you who don’t remember, there was actually a time when a phone number and name didn’t show up on your phone when a call came in. Since you didn’t know who was calling you, your greeting has to be neutral. Imagine not knowing if your mother was calling, your significant other, or the job you just applied for. You have to find a greeting that is appropriate no matter who was calling.

As we think about intentionally creating connections with people, we should take the NO caller id approach.

Our communication is immediately hampered based on our opinions and biases of that person. We react to them based on how they have treated us or made us feel.

Our internet browser’s cache stores information about websites that we visit to help make browsing quicker and more efficient. It remembers the website you visit by storing “snapshots” and cookies will actually remember selections you make and certain data each time you browse. While a cache is very helpful for browsing, it can actually slow your browser down over time. When this happens it is important for you to clear your cache, which basically deletes the memory. The cache can also give you old and outdated information. While a website may have been updated, the browser only remembers what is in its cache.

I’ve started “clearing my cache” on those frustrating relationships. Obviously there has been a communication breakdown and there isn’t an effective connection. While I can point fingers and excuse why it hasn’t worked, it is up to me to take that next step. Clearing my cache allows me to start from scratch in building the relationship. I’m getting rid of those outdated mental snapshots of failed communication attempts.

Creating connections is next-level type communication.

I don’t care if I get my message across. That is no longer important to me. I’m more interested in creating intentional connections with individuals. I’m ultimately focused on being united in thought, opinion, and understanding.