“It takes less time to build good communication than to go back and rebuild a broken relationship ” -by Dr. Ronald Turner

One of the most important lessons I have learned from my POST INCARCERATION SYNDROME (PICS) is that I can not do it all alone. After having served 25 years in prison and 17 of those years in sensory-deprived isolation I developed what I now realize is a passive-aggressive style of communicating. In prison, this communication style worked because the prisoner who can keep secrets is more successful. In addition, you’re in a hostile environment. It’s a place where the less others know about you and your private thoughts the better off you are. You, therefore, develop a mentality of only expressing what you want others to know and ignoring the things that are bothering or hurting you.

However, in the free world, that’s not the case. I have come to realize holding in those painful, antagonizing thoughts, only gives way to more painful antagonizing thoughts. In the real world talking it out is the key. But, how do you do that when you’ve been programmed for so long to not talk about your feelings and especially your fears?

Communication is key. Here are 5 communication points.
1) Miscommunication has the potential to change a relationship. That which can be misunderstood will be misunderstood.
2) When you relate a message via someone else there is potential for problems.
3) Don’t let things fester.
4) What you don’t say can have as much impact as what you do say.
5) It’s not always what you say but, what you allow others to say to you.

There are two parts to effective communication: A speaker who encodes a message and a listener who decodes the message by checking for clarification. Thus, allowing the speaker to clarify the message so that understanding is achieved.
What I”ve learned from both experience and study is that communication isn’t all about what you are saying it’s also about understanding how- what you are saying is being received. In addition to receiving what is being said to you. What that means is REAL HEARING IS HONEST LISTENING. In fact, it has been said that the most important part of communication is listening. Which I tend to agree with. Here are 4 keys to listening:
1) Real hearing is stopping what your doing and looking directly at the person talking. Giving your undivided attention.
2) Real hearing is listening to what the person is saying instead of thinking about your reply.
3) Real hearing is making eye contact. (Eyes are the window to the soul)
4) Real hearing is being attentive.

I have learned in order to communicate effectively:
1) To put myself in the other person’s shoes. To consider how they feel/think. I do this by asking myself am I connecting.
2) That having mutual respect is key.
3) To be honest, saying the things I normally would not say.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that talking it out is a panacea. However, my experience is that learning to communicate differently and more effectively has gone a long way in helping me to grow and live with my PICS. Why not give it a shot it may help you too. By Akili.