Unencumbered Communication – Background


Unencumbered communication brings communication as close as possible to the essence of what is / of what is meant.

Everyone experiences the world from an own frame of reference which invariably ‘burdens’ the message.

To exactly understand what the other means, one needs to inquire into this ‘burden’. What is understood by ‘burden’ is, among other things: judging, interpreting, feelings, scenarios. Very often we’re not aware of this. After all, the way in which we see the world is obvious to us, just like it is obvious to us that others understand our message the way we intend it. ‘Act normally!’; “After all, I was clear”; “Anyway, that is obvious”…

Fully unencumbered communication does not exist: when we look at something without giving words to it, what we see already differs from what someone else sees. When we give words to what we see, no single message is still unencumbered. “It rains” is not a neutral message: maybe the speaker is glad that it rains? Or he isn’t at all? How heavily does it rain according to the speaker? How long does the speaker think / hope that it will keep on raining? These are all aspects of burden on this apparently neutral message.

What is the difference between unencumbered and neutral? The term neutral is too vague for what I mean. I chose for unencumbered because I wanted to point attention to differences in experiencing reality, as well as to the consequences of these differences ánd to the richness of them. In order to do this, I like to compare this to what happens in an orchestra. Through most instruments of an orchestra air is blown. The air is the same, the instrument invariably makes this air sound differently: air blown through a clarinet produces another sound than air blown through a saxophone or through a trumpet. Even air blown through two different saxophones may sound differently. Reality is the air. It is. When we look at reality, and certainly when we give words to our experience of reality, it will sound differently every time. In fact, we are all different instruments, with our own individual sound.

The air is neutral, the sounds aren’t: they are coloured by the instrument the air was blown through. Translated to communication, the air is the message, the sounds are the colouring by judgements, interpretations, feelings and scenarios. Unencumbered Communication involves listening to the variety of sounds coming forth from so many different instruments with a mindset of amazement, thereby knowing that there is an underlying message that is always ready to be explored.

Horses are my masters in Unencumbered Communication. For years, my fascination for horses was shaped into a mixture of passion and fear, translated into balancing between lack of clarity and control. Since 2003, I’ve been going into what horses really need to establish cooperation. The essence of what I’ve learnt from them can only be summarized in the concept Unencumbered Communication, a Solution Focused language.

I don’t intend to eliminate ‘burden’ on messages, this would blur communication too much. I want to make people alert on the existence of ever present burden on messages, to invite them to give words to this burden and to explore it. My aim is twofold: clarity in communication and respect for the richness of differences in perception: “You got to learn day by day to broaden your horizon”.