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Trump and Rubio pushed public debate about as far into the sewer as it can go when Rubio subtly but clearly challenged the size of Trump's penis ("small hands") and Trump responded with a testosterone-fueled defense of his manhood suitable for a bar or locker room.  College Players published a hilarious parody, "Donald Trump:  Show Us Your Penis," on YouTube 

Since then, both candidates have put on more statesman-like fronts, which at least indicates that somewhere in the depths of even these individuals or their systems of handlers there may be hints, or snippets of decency.  At some level, even these caricatures seem to recognize, at least dimly, the value of communication that evidences humanity rather than just animality.

Especially Trump's most rabid supporters are criticizing him for backing off even a little, but those of us who are repulsed by much of this campaign can hope that there will continue to be at least some improvement.

Both personal experience and research confirm the value--in fact, the necessity--of communication that connects people as persons.  For decades, Stephen J. Covey published best-sellers urging business people to avoid "the danger of treating people like things" and to focus on "the human side of organizations."  

Ben Waber's research team now has quantitative data to demonstrate "the importance of cohesive face-to-face communication [that] promotes trust and creates a common language."

And when each of us inventories the Moments that Matter in our own lives [] we recognize that the vast majority happened in authentic, engaged, face-to-face exchanges.

You can avoid the worst of Trump-Rubio and help humanize your own communication life by paying attention to what you “take in” as a communicator and what you “give out.”  Taking in includes the in-your-head stuff—expectations, hopes and fears, prejudices—plus what you do nonverbally and verbally.  Giving out consists of the topic you address—especially its relevance to the conversation and its appropriateness—and, again, what you do nonverbally and verbally.

When you want to help humanize your communicating, take in and give out relevant parts of what make you human.  Lots can fit into that category, and four important pieces are your choices, your un-measurable parts, your reflections, and your mindful presence.

I’ll say more about the last three in later posts.  Here I just want to highlight the importance of choices.  When relevant choices are on the table between people, their communicating will be more personal.

This doesn’t mean that you have to wear your heart on your sleeve or pry into the other person’s intimate life.  “How did you decide to do that?” can elicit talk about choices from your conversation partner.  “This is really my first priority” can be an example of Giving Out a relevant aspect of your own choices.

Obviously, nonverbal encouragers like eye contact, a smile, and open posture help you take in the other person’s choices.  I-statements (First person pronoun + active verb + a concrete specific) help the other person know your choices.

This isn’t rocket-science.  Although details can be important (e.g., questions that begin with “Why” tend to promote defensiveness), the most important thing is to resolve to ask about and listen for the other person’s choices and find ways to put your own on the table.  

This is one important step toward helping make your communicating as personal as possible.


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