The Tao of Communication

Two mysteries:
What is a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communications, and what is Tai Chi?

Mention Prof. Comm., or Taiji, those two questions arise, followed by: “What can you do with with that Tai Chi practice?”, “Chi is like Zen, right?”, or “What can you do with an degree in Communications?”.

The most common assumptions are that Professional Communications has something to do with telemarketing, and Tai Chi is something like yoga or pilates: only magical, meditative and mystical. There are many people feeding the superstitious reputation of Tai Chi, and many greasy snake-oil salesmen marketers out there giving the name of communication a black eye.

In everyday communications, and in professional communications, there are negative and positive aspects. There is a damage control side, where the aim of communication is to save face for ourselves, or a company, and a promotional side aiming to gain face or respect.

In other words, there is a positive, and a negative aspect to communications.

The foundational exercises in the Practical Method of Chen Style Tai Chi are called positive and negative circles. In these drills, the elbow moves in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, while moving inward the hand moves reluctantly, and on the outward the elbow moves reluctantly forward.

Elbow in – No Hand in. Elbow out – No hand out.

For a More Detailed Explanation: The Two Circles of Taijiquan

The idea of positive and negative should not be confused with an idea that in communicating, or in Tai Chi, all actions are black and white. Think of the Ying-Yang symbol, there is a small white circle in the large black wave, and a small black circle inside the large white wave. The same theory applies to communications, there can be a dot of hesitation in your celebration, or some pride in wallowing in the mire: a bit a doubt in your love, or a bit of enjoyment in your hatred.

In Tai Chi class we laugh, and have all round good time with friends, while practicing movements with quite horrible applications with the intention to defeat opponents without mercy. This opposition is natural, and a thread throughout life.

I am not a Taoist scholar, and much of the theory is beyond me; however, the value of practicing to communicate, or learning a skill like Tai Chi or Qi Gong, becomes more obvious upon reflection. These are skills like any other, the more time spent on task the more effective and efficient you can become.

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  • chris bennett

    I like your analogy of comunication and the Tai Chi symbol. It gives a good visual representation of the art of communication.

  • jason@brandscaping

    are you saying that i should have invested in Tai Chi lessons instead of a year at RRU?

    j/k – nice post. the sybolism and the analogy are very apropos – Mcluhan would be impressed!