Recently, a post on social media caused me to contemplate communication. As I think about it, I realize there is more to communication than just the words we are speaking, writing, or hearing.
When cell phones first came out, there were times when there would be a lot of problems. Voices would be garbled, sections of the conversation would be missing, or the call would end without any apparent reason. Although we were communicating on this handy device, the message was incomplete. In a way the listener had to fill in the blanks with what they thought was the intention of the conversation.
This kind of thing was not ideal when it came to communicating, but we were willing to forgo any inconvenience. At times it would be easier to end the call and wait until we saw the intended recipient in person to continue the conversation.
It seems with our busy lives today we often misinterpret what we hear when we are communicating with others. One reason for this is our mind can be so full of stuff we have a difficult time hearing what is being said. Other times we may be too focused on getting our point across, we fail to hear what the other person is saying.
How often have we been in situations where we are so wrapped up in what is bothering us we can’t even hold a conversation? Our thoughts get in the way, and it may be better to remain silent than to say the wrong thing. Maybe our emotions are so raw we can’t even express ourselves clearly, all we want to do is pull a blanket over our head and go to sleep.
This is where I realize that true communication can be a delicate thing. Because at any moment incorrect words could be spoken, thereby ruining the whole conversation. The problem with this, is the wrong words may be unknown until they come out of our mouth, then it is too late. As they say, “You can’t unring the bell.”
When we hear words that surprise us, we have a few choices, we can ask for clarification to see if what we heard was the true intention. This is one way of preventing feelings from getting hurt. Or we could react in anger by what was said, without seeking a better understanding. Our choice will determine the outcome of our conversation, and possibly the longevity of our relationship.
Why is it so hard to seek clarity when we hear things that seem out of context? Is it because our self-image is so fragile we know no other way of behaving? Imagine having the self-awareness to ask someone who spoke hurtful words to clarify their intentions.
In doing so we are seeking a better understanding, they may have never intended their words to sound as they did. It all could come down to a simple misunderstanding that can be cleared up easily. Isn’t that what communicating is all about, the desire to add clarity to a situation, thereby expanding the conversation?
At times it appears we have limited our communication to how many characters or emojis we can use on social media, in a text, or email. In a way this takes away our ability to get a good idea of what is going on in another person’s life. How often have you sent a long email, asking many questions about a close friend, only to get an emoji in response. Is this our new way of communicating?
What have we lost with the technology we so commonly use today? Have we sacrificed our ability to communicate, not only our thoughts and intentions, but our passions and desires as well? We have adopted convenience over hearing the enthusiasm in a person’s voice when they have exciting news to tell. In a way we have taken the human voice out of our method of communicating.
When was the last time we picked up the phone and called someone who is close to us? Or even asked them out for tea or coffee. Yes we have been restricted by the pandemic, but if they mean something to us we can work around these limitations.
As the world shifts quickly, we must take the time and spend the energy to have an honest conversation with those we care about. We never know when we will be able to communicate with them again.
I have to admit I use emojis too often when I should be expressing myself with words.
Let me know what you think. Leave a question or comment below, I’d enjoy hearing from you.
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Can we be of service to others without sacrificing who we are?
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Peace and Well-Being, Paul
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