Communicating with C.A.R.E.
Every time we interact with someone, we use C.A.R.E. Even if we don’t LIKE the person or even know them, C.A.R.E. is the process we use. C.A.R.E. stands for: Contact, Agreement, Reception, Response, and Exit.
Take a look at any completed interaction in your day: the pleasant exchange in the grocery store lineup, the deep conversation with your best friend about your crazy neighbour, the near-fight you witnessed in front of the bank when that girl in the SMART car scooped the Audi guy’s parking spot. It’s all there.
Contact is any look, word, gesture, or movement that initiates an interaction.
Agreement follows when the potential partner indicates they are “in”. The returned eye contact. The “let’s go” stance. The welcoming smile of recognition. Without agreement there is no INTERaction.
Reception is the natural followup to agreement. When we agree and receive the initial invitation, we indicate, “I’m ready to ‘play’”.
A Response can be spoken, physical, a breath, a look, a signal. Whether is it pleasant or not so pleasant, a response is a response is a…. well you get it.
And finally, when the course of the interaction is run (and sometimes long after) we Exit, leaving the interaction.
This whole process can last 5 seconds or hours. But the process is always the same no matter the length.
So what about those folks who may not shift social gears in the same way as others? What about people who make fuzzy (or no) eye contact but continue to talk at you as though you’ve given them the go-ahead? (“No I don’t want to talk to … Ok you’re talking to me anyway… what a jerk, he isn’t even paying attention to me”.) These are people with social learning gaps. You may know someone like this. Or you may be like this yourself. But, when we consistently have less than successful interactions, something in our C.A.R.E. process is amiss.
This is only important if it creates problems in life. If it ain’t broke (just quirky) don’t fix it. But, if you or someone you know or love is consistently having difficulty interacting, it can probably be tracked back to C.A.R.E. The good news – there is lots you can do.
More later on why these things might happen, but what to do? Once you have zeroed in on what area of your C.A.R.E. is out of synch, HOW you close that “gap” can be as simple as a matter of rehearsal and practice.
You might need to slow down and really acknowledge what the other person is telling you – our rush to respond can sometimes lead to misunderstandings.
You may not be showing that you have received your partner’s message – if you don’t let me know you’ve at least heard me, I’ll start to get a bit…grouchy. And I will probably go on automatic pilot.
Or perhaps you need to clarify with your partner that they have understood your meaning. In a nice way…there are LOTS of ways to say “Was I clear?”. The medium IS the message, after all.
Active communication is INTERactive. If you are stuck in Reaction, you are a communication hostage. If you are only ACTING you are a communication soloist – which is lonely for your partner and ultimately for you. Soon they’ll begin to glaze over and look for the exit.
As an improv teacher and social coach, I encourage students to let messages “land” with them. As a communicator, are you performing a solo or truly INTERacting with your partner?
More to come on how Social Improv© Games address each part of the C.A.R.E. model. Meantime take C.A.R.E.!