Communication: Does It Unite or Divide?

Communication can unite or divide, depending on how it is initiated and received. For example, if a sincere apology is met with a dismissive statement by the recipient, humble efforts are shredded, generating negative vibrations. This missed opportunity is an example of how communication is used to divide. On the other hand, heartfelt efforts embraced with open-heart chakra body posture, tone, and words of acceptance, nourish positive communication and build trust. This is how communication may unite.

When one initiates or responds in a way as if to put another down or build oneself up at the expense of another, that behavior might be labeled “obnoxious.” However, there is a qualitative difference among these three flavors of obnoxious: First, deliberate effort to inflict discomfort. Second, accidental insensitivity. Third, an effort to self-protect because of a perceived need to defend one’s position. The first is often accompanied by delight (on the part of the aggressor) in the resulting pain experienced by the recipient. The second is typically characterized by a strong sense of deeply felt remorse once one recognizes the feelings of the recipient have been hurt. The third is very tricky, as it may overlap with either the first or second. If the aggressor in the third case believes “offense is the best defense” but feels remorse at the outcome, shades of regret may filter through, and open communication may repair the damage.

There are many ways in which one may be deliberately or accidentally careless with the feelings of others. If a person errs consistently and/or too often, labels such as difficult, insensitive, uncaring, bully, or even obnoxious may be earned. The trick is to listen to our words before they leave our mouth. Ideally, we filter questions and comments through the familiar “Is it kind, necessary and true?” test, and then, further filter through one more question under the category of “necessary,” specifically: “If necessary – to whom?”

Questions, comments, and responses should create safety, nourish honest clarification, and build understanding. Unfortunately, questions, comments, and responses are sometimes misunderstood, so it is best to listen through the filter, “Does this person have my best interest at heart?” If the answer is “yes” then generosity of spirit permits overlooking misstatements. If, however, the answer is “no,” and the person is known to misuse words as a weapon to inflict discomfort and/or maintain distance – a deep breath and ignoring may be the best response.

When your open-heart chakra approach is met with erroneous assumptions and accusations that figuratively point a finger at you, without making allowance for compromise, it is best to move along to others who exude positive vibrations.

In other words, if family members who live out of town are invited to your event but can’t make it because of scheduled surgery, illness, or anything else outside of their control, you as the host might choose to be gracious or obnoxious upon receipt of the regrets. “Gracious” would be reflected by heartfelt wishes that things could be different and an honest expression of how deeply the invitees would be missed. That grace would include well wishes in the case of surgery or illness, and an offer to assist in any way that would support the family member who can’t accept the invitation. An example of an obnoxious response might include a theoretical, rhetorical question designed to keep distance, such as, “You didn’t really want to visit, did you? You made up that excuse to get out of it, right?”

Permitting family struggles to hang like a dark cloud may taint gatherings with so much tension that guests might self-preserve by avoiding family functions altogether. All families have some sort of tension at one time or another. If healing is an honest, mutually embraced goal, self-questioning regarding the origin of the tension – be it fear or a perceived threat – may shed light on the issues and foster resolution. Sometimes a professional mental health provider may be helpful to create a safe space for this type of exploration. If one or more people find they want to avoid family gatherings so desperately that they go to great lengths to do so just to avoid spending time with particular people,professional intervention may be worth considering.

When the people being avoided are known to be toxic, demanding, invasive, predictably obnoxious, or selfish, the effort to avoid contact is understandable. It is when the person being avoided is generous of spirit, and generally regarded as loving and caring that the one who feels the need to avoid contact may be in need of emotional support by a well-trained mental health professional. Enabling distracts. Confronting with professional help goes a long way to unite the family.

In summary, if you find yourself on the initiating, responding, or receiving end of negative vibrations from people with whom you share unconditional love, self-reflect to detect the disconnect. Once you dissolve illusions, heartfelt recognition of the erroneous exchange may facilitate a new opportunity to unite as you build trust, feel safe, and heal your relationship.

Dr. Nancy Iankowitz is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC. She is also host of “Marcy’s World” on Pawling Public Radio. Email your questions to: For more information, call (917) 716-6802, or visit online.