I’m standing at the top of a gorge and yell out “Cooee” and in anticipation I wait for the echo…… nothing. Usually I hear my call out back as an echo. I straighten myself out and stand tall and yell out even louder “Cooee”. A short wait and yet I hear nothing. I’m getting frustrated now and I shout even louder as my lungs feel like they are going to burst “COOEE, COOEE, COOEE” exasperated I wait and still I hear nothing, not a glimmer not even a faint hint of a returning voice. What happened to my echo? Where did it go?
This past year a friend shared with me a quote. It goes a little something like this “Communication is the response you get”
Being a short quote it can be difficult to grasp an idea and as I reflected this saying throughout the year and further with the above story, some ideas came to mind.
Languages are complicated and it seems English may be the most complicated yet. So many words and phrases; they have all kinds of meanings, double entendre’, sarcasm/facetiousness, there are similar yet different words.
Add to these, tone, volume, body language, social settings, workplaces etc. it gets far more complicated indeed. Expand this to the various contexts and experiences that we each have (good and bad) in life.
There are so many ways to interpret what is written or said.
Oh, how complicated it is to actually communicate effectively?
Do you see that unless you can see/understand what is exactly going on in my mind that you will probably misunderstand me?
That being the case, it seems easy and common that there will be misunderstandings and that they will be frequent.
So, what can we do about it?
I think assuming a position of misunderstanding goes along way, recognising that outside of ourselves that we’ve probably been misunderstood allows us to ask more questions of ourselves and others. We can ask ourselves that if we have been misunderstood what could we have said or done differently to improve the outcome. Further it allows us to clarify with others what they’ve understood and add further clarity for them.
We can also apply active listening techniques such as reflecting our understanding of an instruction or comment back to the person giving it. This allows them to expand and help us with improved clarity and help affirm that our understanding is correct.
Of course, this does not limit times of specific instruction and the ability to listen well. i.e. please use a 25mm screw and instead use a 20mm screw, this is simply not listening. There are times we just get it plain wrong.
Most of the time though we probably do not understand well, we are in a position to communicate and listen well. Let’s go out there and put these ideas into practise.
Preventing misunderstanding by improving communication may reduce fights, mistakes, and nurture living peacefully.