Great Communication – Don’t Get The Wrong Idea
Two large puffs of white smoke rose lazily far off on the horizon followed by a small one and another large one. There were smiles all round. It was a good sign. Two large, one small and another large meant that the hunt was a success and there would be full tummies tonight and for many nights to come. Smoke signals communicated to everyone.
Communication is Not Optional
All beings communicate in some fashion, be it chemically through pheromones, non-verbally like smoke signals or verbally as we humans do. You could say that we humans occupy the top spot on the communication food chain capable of complex and varied types of communications.
Interaction is essential, so much so that Mother Nature specially endowed humans with the ability for form distinct sounds that could be used to relay meaning from one to another. She gave us the brain capacity to develop complex language, to arrange symbols into words, words into ideas so that ideas could be shared. Human thought gives rise to the need to communicate which, in some instances, is almost as necessary as life sustaining breath. Ever try to keep a secret?
It Takes Two… or More to Tango
It takes at least two to communicate. Obviously, you say to yourself. Duh! Have you really communicated if a thought or idea remains undelivered? No, not really. There must be both a sender and a receiver, one to deliver the message and one to get it for communication to occur. What’s most important within this discussion of self development and improvement, and the crux of this article, is what happens immediately after a communication is sent.
We’ve all played the Telephone Game where a group of people pass long a word or phrase one to another to see what comes out the other end. Usually it is not the same word or phrase that was first said. It’s a fun game to play and it has some deeper implications ideal for this discussion.
Just by playing the Telephone Game it’s easy to see that Mother Nature has a deep seated sense of humor. She’s given us the ability, no, not the ability, the need to interpret what comes into our senses. Input comes in and we add or subtract, embellish or diminish until it looks, smells and feels like we think it should.
More often than not a receiver is going to give meaning to a communication. The receiver is going to put his or her personal touch on the input. When we mix in non-verbal communications, such as body language and facial expression or consider the influence of voice inflection and tone on oral communication what was received may be nothing like what was sent.
This interpreting has gotten us all in trouble at one time or another. Think back on the time you jumped in before you had all the facts only to find how misguided you were about what you were thinking. We’ve all been there and if only you had waited another half second to hear the defining communication the misinterpretation could have been avoided.
Side Stepping Misinterpretation
How then do we avoid being misunderstood or being the “misunder-stander?” The secret lies in being absolutely rock solid, crystal clear in our communication and our understanding. If you are uncertain about a communication ask for clarification. If someone you are communication with appears to be puzzled ask how what you just communicated landed over there. It takes no more than a few seconds to be certain that what you sent had the same meaning as what was received.
Take responsibility for your communication. Don’t assume that someone understands what you’ve communicated. With clarity comes certainty. With certainty misinterpretation can be avoided.
The next time you are interacting with another be observant, catch yourself interpreting or leaving another in uncertainty. Practice being precise in your communication. Stop and ask for or give clarification. It might just be the right “random act of kindness” and a very human thing to do. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Share on Linkedin share via Reddit Share with Stumblers Tweet about it Subscribe to the comments on this post Tell a friend Tags: body language, communication, facial expression, ideas, interaction, language, meaning, non-verbal communication, oral communication, receiver, sender, telephone game, thought, tone, voice inflection, words