How Successful is Your Communication?

communicationBW

Something we all realise from time to time is that what we say does not always perfectly convey to someone we are communicating with exactly what we meant.

There are two main reasons for this:

1. Our mind is not constructed in exactly the same internal way as that of any other person making a ‘perfect’ exchange of ideas from one mind to another problematic. ( difficult to do just right 😉 )

2. The problem of language. That is trying to find a way of transforming our thoughts into a medium (such as the English or any other language system) that someone else can understand and agree with in order to ‘see’ what we mean.

There is not all that much we can do about either reason: we cannot all think exactly the same way because we have all built up our mind by experiencing many different things since we were born. What we can do is try to remember this when we offer our ideas, words, thoughts to anyone else and do our best to make things as clear and as not open to different interpretation as we can. This requires constant conscious efforts on our part and a realisation that people are going to take what we say slightly differently to what we meant.

This is true for all forms of communication, written, spoken, non-verbal (body language/facial expression) or if we use visual forms to communicate ( movies, sign-language, etc)

The second problem though, language has problems built into it – problems we might rarely think much about.

This was brought home to me most clearly in a course i took on communication with a very simple demonstration i would like to share now.

I didn’t say he killed his wife.

A simple easy to understand sentence of just 7 little words – how difficult could it be to understand something like that? We all understand what each word means – there is no confusion about any single word – right?

But what exactly did i mean when i said that?

To be clear here, try emphasising one word out of the sentence… then do the same for a different word, do it for all words separately.

eg. EYE didn’t say he killed his wife – meaning either: i never said he did even if i thought it, OR, i might have repeated it but i was not the FIRST one to say it – someone else was.

i DIDN’T say he killed his wife – meaning i never said or thought it, or, i don’t currently recall saying it.

i didn’t SAY he killed his wife – meaning either i ‘implied’ he did without actually saying the words, or, i may have written it or given the impression that was my belief in a way that did not use spoken words.

For each word you emphasise you can put a different meaning to the sentence. There are at LEAST 7 different meanings to those seven words in that order!

Often we can determine the intended meaning from the context around it. Context is very important and is one reason why say quoting a single verse from the Bible may not give all people the idea you intended. People need more than just the words said to get the whole idea behind a thought.

More often, if we don’t, people will put their own individual interpretation on what is said. or easily discount it totally.

This is particularly true of the written word – blogs, letters, emails, and even moreso in SMS where context is usually not present.

The reason for this is that of all the things we communicate to another, which used to only be face-to-face, before people learned to read and write and before the telephone the actual words we use comprise just 9-10%.

The tone of our voice transmits around 40% of our meaning and the rest – a whopping 50% – is transmitted by our body language, our expression as we say something or our physical stance, tapping of feet waving of arms etc.

Quite obviously the 90% of our communication that is non-verbal cannot be transmitted via the written word alone.

Emoticons were developed to help improve the ‘interpretation’ of our words by aiding our ability to transmit our emotion along with the words we write.

Something to remember whenever we write.

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2 Comments

  1. Blessings my brother from afar:)

    Wow! You sure know how to make me think about something. I agree with you. Like Scripture for example; it is important to read Scripture before and after the one being quoted to understand the context of said Scripture. By doing this, no loose interpretation is born. That is one of the most important things I have learned about communication.

    Truly interesting and well communicated brother:)

    Many blessing to you and yours,

    Reply
  2. Thank you Bro’.

    i confess there are times i’m not too sure if my thoughts are a blessing or a curse 🙂 It has been given to me to have a quick mind and thought, but a stubborn heart, one i had focussed more on the carnal world than the spiritual and so feel confident i can share things of this world with others to help their understanding of it, but more and more these days i see the vanity therein and wonder as to the ‘wisdom’.

    i feel the spirit rising to overcome, but feel i am far from your level in that regard, and hesitate to ‘compete’ with all those who already have True Wisdom to share in their blogs.

    Still, we each have our own journey to travel towards union with the One who created all things – right? I’m blessed if you (or anyone) finds something worthy for themselves in my posts.

    All blessings to you and your ministry.

    Reply

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