So You Think You are Communicating.

We place such weight on communication because we know exactly what we are saying.

Glass Art in Night Sky

What’s on your mind right now after reading that sentence? Your life experiences are affecting my message.

Surely you understand that first sentence perfectly.  It’s only a simple statement.  The words are all commonplace.

“Hurry up and lay down!”   How on earth do children understand what we want?

The amount of time and money spent on getting messages perfect is significant.  That’s followed by time and money spent working the message through the filters of the recipients.  The more important the situation, the more spent.

Filters are factors like culture, language, education, experience, or health.  Can we rely on leaders with such different filters getting together after jet lag and spending 12 or 16 hours in talks bring about clarity or resolution?

Our world peace is depending upon it.

One tiny Scotswoman, in a very cold, snowy mining town in Northern Canada, profoundly brought this awareness to me in 3 minutes:

When I arrived in Cassiar as Secretary Treasurer of the School District, I was in the grocery store. A shorter, petite woman approached me in the aisle, “Do ya cuddle?”
“Do I what?” I asked.
“Cuddle! Do ya cuddle?” she repeated a little louder.
I wondered where I had landed. I said with a bit of sarcasm, “I’ve been known to, but I’m damned fussy who with!”
“Good. Show up at the cuddling rink…”

After we finished sharing our mutual hysterics, I assured her she didn’t want me on her curling rink.  I thought Lead was a senior position!

                                                                                                            Stories bring clarity.

Glass Art in Daylight

Stories show.

Stories allow movement within the message.

Stories replace lecture, telling.

Stories invite imagination.

Some filters are better left on,

some – off.

Get the picture?

It’s clear as glass

To me.

34 thoughts on “So You Think You are Communicating.

  1. Love this post and the story within . . . cuddle would have confounded me too. 😀

    We see the world not as IT is . . . but as WE are.
    We see the world behind our eyes.

    It’s much harder to shift our perspective to give ourselves a more balanced view.

  2. Yes, filters are an awareness to keep in mind when trying to truly communicate. We often don’t realize how they are affecting the talk or the book or what we are trying to say with what ever method we are trying to say it with.
    Cute story to show your point.

  3. It’s a worthwhile point, Beautiful.

    I personally appreciate every email that’s been proofread and includes all the info I’ll need to take action, make a decision or otherwise feel it was worth my time opening the message. Some days, it’s a rare, rare thing.

    As far as “cuddling” goes, count me a nay, at least in this context.

    • It’s a great day when clarity is present. As an active listener, I ask for clarity when I am confused by too many “she/he/the/they”s. If the speaker or writer keeps being indefinite, I want to quit listening. I shudder to think of the misdirection and misinformation that occurs because I find few other people who ask for clarification.

      I know the kind of “cuddling” I like in the cold…it doesn’t require a broom! 😀

  4. Hi souldipper,
    How easy it is to misunderstand, this does get us into trouble every now and then, it’s when we can laugh about it after wards I think is an award in itself. 🙂

  5. Hi Amy .. I can believe that .. different accent, different country .. but cuddling and curling … = very curdling!

    This week I was in a store buying my tv licence for the year – the girl had said ‘oh I’ve forgotten what to do’ and was fiddling around; the other sales lady had asked her to do the transaction on her till – so they could get out £4 in cash and replace it in her till … fine! (I was paying cash).

    The other lady was free – and I saw some toilet rolls on sale and asked if I could have two toilet roll sets with my eyes in that direction, talking to the sales lady ..

    The next thing I knew was the young girl had stopped her tv transaction, punched in two Euro lottery sales .. and I was proffered my tickets .. I said I hadn’t asked for two lottery tickets – I’d asked for two loo roll sets ..

    I didn’t go into – ‘I wasn’t looking at you for the transaction I was asking the other sales lady’ (as were my eyes and my voice … projected away from the youngster) …

    Why do people think – when you don’t want them to .. and don’t when you do?

    Communication is essential .. bad enough in our own language with our own people … throw in different cultures and accents – boy do you have difficulties ..

    Cheers – Hilary

  6. It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all. On a small scale, partners quibble with their significant others over words that struggle to tell the story. On a large scale, politicians attempt to tell us what their soundbites really mean. What we need is a lot more patience to stand and LISTEN, and then, if we don’t understand, ask for clarification.

    • I believe you have the key, SDS – time to be present. Plus, we skim over text. Our attention is diverted in a flash. Our minds flick to other matters. We can’t ask for clarification; someone will think we’re stupid!

    • Good for you, Poch. We’ve been focusing on the Brazilian Rain Forest. It’s time we went to bat for the Phillipines. I sure wish the very best for your brother! I’m amazed how easily blatant lies can be told as though employees are ignorant…!

      Also, news of the creation of light with those bottles of water that your brilliant countrymen designed has been circulating like wild fire over facebook. That’s good! Simple and powerfully helpful.

  7. Great post Amy. And I love the sign Crowing Crone saw.

    I had a similar discussion with my friend Suzanne’s mother when she told me she works as a nurse – only she didn’t say nurse she said “R.N” – and because she comes from Alabama and speaks with a very strong southern accent I couldn’t understand her. I had no idea what she’d said, and hoped if I nodded and smiled it would be enough, but she was expecting an answer, so I said, “Sorry I’ve never heard of that work.” Well that made her furious…as you’d expect. I asked Suzanne what work her mother does, and when she said “she’s a nurse” I laughed so much I nearly fell over, but the R.N didn’t think it very funny… I’ll never forget that look on her face… heh heh

    • That’s a riot, Rosie! Our nurse’s say “R.N.” quite often, as well. The reason they do – there are now well trained LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) who are nursing assistants. They call themselves nurses so the RNs are being more precise.

  8. As I read your first sentence I was thinking that I certainly do not always know exactly what I am saying, I know what I want to say but often the words to express it do not come out how I would like. I do not have a gift with words, I always use too many of them to say so little, and yes many a time the interpretation of my words has gotten me into trouble.I do agree that much can be gotten across to another in story form. Didn’t the native indians use stories to teach many things?

    • For sure, Dee. Plus, what about parables? Look how little stories stick with us. I cannot resist adding that we story-tellers have to know how to be succinct – as Madeleine pointed out. We can lose the listener by over-telling. That’s been my discipline!

  9. I never know what I’m saying until I write it and even then ….

    Confounding accents add to the muddle, eh? Not to mention low blood sugar. Lots of factors … This is a velcro story. Thanks!

  10. It’s funny, but I’m much better on paper than I am when speaking. Perhaps with the split second I have between brain, pen and paper I’m able to filter myself and make my message clearer. Great post Amy!

  11. I actually enjoy (usually) the misunderstandings that mishearing or misreading words bring. Working with overseas students brings me much hilarity of miscommunications.
    But when I need to communicate precisely, I pick my words with huge care. I hate the thought of hurting someone by my carelessness.

    • Rather than simply a newsworthy fact in the New York Times, herein lies a profound message for humanity. I see the love and care that motivated one person to perform such an incredible act. I am reminded, yet again, this time through a story from Japan, to hear the message.

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