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The Art of Positive Communication

Theory and Practice

Julien C. Mirivel

How we communicate with each other matters greatly. Our identity, our friendships and marriages, our families, and our culture are the product of how we speak to one another. Our words affect our hopes and dreams, as well as those of our children. We insult, complain, or criticize. We compliment, offer support, and inspire. These are choices that take place in the crevices of our most private and public conversations with others.
This book bridges communication theory and practice to foreground an important message: positive communication matters. By examining closely how people talk to each other at home or at work, this book enables undergraduate and graduate students to communicate more positively. The Art of Positive Communication is an ideal text for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in interpersonal communication courses and as a supplemental text to inspire all students to communicate better.
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Chapter 2: Positive Communication Creates Contact


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A professor travels to Japan to study martial arts with a Grand Master. Upon meeting him, and as he joins the class, the professor immediately displays his abilities and mastery of various techniques. He works hard to make visible all that he knows. In silence, the Grand Master simply observes his performance. After class, the Grand Master invites the student to drink tea in a beautiful garden: “Why don’t you join me outside for tea?” he asks politely. After sitting down, the Grand Master slowly pours tea into the cup. Soon, the tea starts to overflow, but the Grand Master continues to pour tea in the cup. Upon this sight, the professor clinches his lips to avoid being rude. But the Grand Master presses on; tea is spilling everywhere. The professor finally loses his patience and says, “the cup is full, no more will go in!” The Grand Master places the teapot down and faces him: “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup” (Hyams, 1979, p. 11).

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