Why is it so difficult to communicate with each other? Is it because we are too busy to listen? Are we unable, as intelligent human beings, to express ourselves, listen, process and respond?
As people, we refer to ourselves as superior beings. What makes us superior, is our ability to think and communicate. Why is it then, that sometimes I think my dogs are better communicators than most people? I almost always know exactly what my dogs want from me. Why? Because they ask or tell me what they want. If they don’t like something, they as usually pretty good at communicating that as well.
It amuses me how we hold ourselves and our intelligence in such high regards yet we are unable to talk to one another and comprehend what the other is saying. I just plugged in the word communication on the Amazon website and it comes back with 261,780 books in the search results. Is there really a need for that many books on the subject? Is it really that difficult? If it is, why are there no required courses in the subject in our public schools?
Here are some of my observations:
1) First, people are often afraid to openly communicate their feelings or needs. Often because they fear the response.
2) People don’t listen. Whether they are distracted by other things or trying to think about what they want to say, they aren’t listening and hearing the other person.
3) The most common response to a question or need, particularly in business is, “I’ll have to think about that.” or “I’ll look in to that and get back to you.” Then the conversation can be halted and no discussion or response is given. End result? No solution or resolution and added frustration on the part of the person asking the question.
4) Often, people are unwilling to listen or address your issues because their plate is full of their own. This is especially problematic when you are required to report to some above you and any decisions require their approval. This also happens in relationships, unfortunately, where one is allowed more power or control.
5) Nonverbal communication is often more important than the actual words. Eye contact and body language are usually better at telling the real story.
6) Be willing to ignore the tone. I’ve experience more frustrating conversations resulting in misunderstandings from placing too much importance in the tone of someone’s voice. A person’s tone isn’t always directed at you even though it feels that way. A person could be frustrated by the situation, their own inability to provide a solution, or something entirely unrelated to the conversation itself.
7) Written communication has vastly changed. Email, texting and online messaging are not the same as a formal letter or memo that have pretty much become a thing of the past. In an attempt to be brief, details are often omitted that need clarification. Again, tone may need to be overlooked. Your state of mind and that of the author may be totally different, allowing the reader to misinterpret the content. Not sure? Ask questions. Communicate.
One thing I’ve made a habit of doing is repeating myself multiple times, in different ways, anytime I think I could possibly be misunderstood. I also try to repeat the person’s response back to them for clarity. Again, listening skills are so important.
We are all unique individuals that talk and think differently. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to truly communicate effectively. When presenting a problem or issue to someone, it always helps to also have a solution to present as well. No one likes to listen to people complain all the time. Presenting possible solutions encourages discussion and ultimately a positive outcome.
Today’s Pic of the Day: Ken G. in my play, September’s Heroes. Ken is an extraordinary young actor, leader and model student. He is up for a scholarship that you can help him win! I’ll post the link below the photo.
You can vote for Ken’s essay at: http://www.wyzant.com/scholarships/v2/essay34795-Carol_Stream-IL.aspx
On that page, all you have to do is click the “VOTE” box. With your help, he could be awarded a scholarship of $2,000 to $5,000 for college.