Most communication is done at arm’s length.
By this I mean our deepest levels of meaning, emotion, and intention are either implied or more often concealed from the person(s) we are speaking with.
In professional and formal settings (school, clubs, church, etc.) this is pretty much how it has to be since there is not enough time to delve more deeply and no good reason to do so in most cases.
Problems arise, however, when the arm’s length habits of formal settings are imported into intimate private settings such as close friendships, marriages, families.
Arm’s length communication is effective in formal settings, but its use of reduced messaging techniques in private settings invariably enters gray areas followed by conscious lying.
I think people do this in their private communications mainly because they don’t know how to communicate in any other way. Humans are basically somewhat smart apes who have a fairly complex (for us) communication/language system grafted onto the instincts of a wild animal.
When the inevitable ambiguities and lies of arm’s length communications build up within the intimate communications of couples or close friends, the result will be explosive emotions or alienation and apathy.
The simple arm’s length system is a primitive, basic system for communicating obvious things. To be honest, if you enjoy your communications at work or the clubhouse more than at home, you are basically showing how primitive you are.
In formal settings communication is entirely based on predetermined mutual agreement concerning values, beliefs, etc.
Private settings require much more nuance and thus a much more nuanced communication technique.
FIML is designed for private, intimate communication. It allows partners to open their minds to much richer and much healthier interactions.
You cannot achieve optimum psychological health if you engage only in arm’s length communication. You can only do so by using a technique like FIML that allows you and your partner to consciously share the profound world of interpersonal subjectivity.
You have to have a clearly-defined technique and an agreement to do this. FIML is not about sitting around drinking herb tea while doing “compassionate listening.” That is bullshit. That’s just another form of arm’s length communication.
FIML takes some time and practice but it is no harder than learning how to ski or cook or play a musical instrument moderately well.
first posted JUNE 7, 2016