“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
I was working with a friend at a community garden the other day and we got together afterwards for a bite to eat and some conversation. As we left we spoke briefly about effective interpersonal communications. As I thought about it later I was reminded of how many times I did not really understand what the other person was trying to say. In reality it is not critical that I hear the words being said, it is critical I hear what is meant by the words.
In this day and age we are the result of our different experiences, professions, cultures, age groups and even more. Many of us fall into the trap of believing that people define their words the same as we do. It is almost as if we believe we are the norm and anyone who does speak or understand as we do has a problem.
Over the years, in both my business and personal experience I found that more often than not it was I who did not understand what was meant by someone communicating with me. What is even worse is when I thought I did and walked away thinking we had agreement on some action only to find out that we did not and I ended up not meeting the other persons expectations.
Fortunately I got into the habit of paraphrasing and feeding back not just the words I heard but what I thought the words meant. Those of you who know me have often heard me say “If I understood you correctly you said…..” to this day I am amazed of how valuable recap and clarification can be.
Here are a few of my personal communication beliefs; I just wish I was more diligent in their practice.
Give your full attention to what is being said, really listen.
If you start to loose the drift of what is being said, interrupt and ask for clarification so you can get back on track.
Use words that you both understand.
Respect the others effort to communicate and their right to their viewpoint.
Don’t try to overwhelm them with your viewpoint or insist on agreement; rather ask them to consider what you have to offer.
Feed back what you understood and ask if it is correct.
Make sure if actions are required that your expectations of what will be done are exactly the same.
If you can’t agree don’t walk away mad, do it gracefully and you’ll get a chance to agree another day.
Now to be honest, there are folks the haters, the naysayers, the constant critics, the folks that don’t care, those unwilling to consider alternatives, and I hate myself for saying this, the obviously idiotic, who I leave as quickly as I can avoiding the wasting of precious time trying to help them see alternatives.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
You Know Your In Trouble When
A black cat crosses your path and drops dead.
The bride’s family throws rocks instead of rice.
The candles on your cake set off your smoke alarm.
You take an assertiveness training course and you’re afraid to tell your wife.
You’re so lonely that you invite the peeping Tom in… and he says no.
Your children’s school calls to surrender.
Your mother approves of the person you’re dating.
Your plants do better when you don’t talk to them.
Your secrets are safe with me and all my friends.
Little Johnny and Little Mary were talking one day. Little Mary asked "what is the highest number you have ever counted up?" "I counted up to 1,279 once" Johnny answered. "WoW!
Really? Why did you stop at 1,279?"
Mary asked. "Because church was over."
Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you’ve put in.
A cantor, the man who sings the prayers at a synagogue, brags before his congregation in a booming, bellowing voice: "Two years ago I insured my voice with Lloyds of London for $750,000."
There is a hushed and awed silence in the crowded room. Suddenly, from the back of the room, the quiet, nasal voice of an elderly woman is heard, "So what did you do with the money?"
Skier: Someone who pays an arm and a leg to break them.
A devoutly Christian couple felt it important to own an equally Christian pet. So, after careful inquiry, they went shopping at a kennel specializing in Christian dogs. They found a dog they liked quite a lot. When they asked the dog to fetch the Bible, he did it in a flash. When they instructed him to look up Psalm 23, he complied eagerly, using his paws with dexterity. They were impressed; they immediately purchased the animal, and went home (piously of course).
That night they had friends over. They were so proud of their new Christian dog and his religious skills, they called the dog and began showing him off. The friends were impressed, and asked whether the dog was able to do any of the usual dog tricks, as well. This stopped the couple cold, as they hadn’t thought about "normal" tricks.
"Well," they said, "let’s find out." Once more they called the dog, and they clearly pronounced the command, "Heel!" Quick as a wink, the dog jumped up, put his paw on the guest’s forehead, closed his eyes, and began to pray.
"Absurdity, n.: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion."
Once there was a fisherman that had just pulled into the dock after fishing for several hours, when a idiot on shore asked, "Did you catch all them fish?"
The fisherman replied, "Nope, talked them into giving up."
Discover wildlife! Have kids!
On the first day of college, the Dean addressed the students, pointing out some of the rules:
"The female dormitory will be out-of-bounds for all male students, and the male dormitory to the female students.
Anybody caught breaking this rule will be fined $20 the first time."
He continued, "Anybody caught breaking this rule a second time will be fined $60. Being caught a third time will cost you a fine of $180. Are there any questions?"
At this point, a male student in the crowd inquired, "How much for a season pass?"
“Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.”
Sue Patton Thoele
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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