Communication is a complex thing. I’m known to be pretty direct. Mostly I say what is on my mind. Sometimes, I keep stuff in then explode when I’ve hit a limit. These types of communications aren’t so pretty, but they are expressive.
After challenging communications, I always go back through and look at where I contributed to the breakdown. Sometimes I am shocked how a single word misunderstanding created havoc….and it could have gone a different direction if both parties were clear on what was actually being said.
Here are some simple ways to realize how complex communication is:
I say “Blue” – what color did you see? I see a midnight blue.
I say “Dog” – what kind of dog did you see? I see different types depending on the story being told.
If I say blue and I think you see the same exact color that I see, right there is a simple opportunity for communication breakdown. I’ll proceed thinking we are on the same page when realistically we could be shades apart.
Of course color isn’t very loaded. But what if it’s a situation of conflict that is emotionally loaded?
What if someone says, “I am sorry for my actions” Well, they know exactly which actions they are apologizing for and which ones they are not apologizing for. I may automatically assume they are apologizing for the actions that I thought were wrong, or wronged me. If we don’t take a minute to be absolutely clear what the actions are, we will think we are both in agreement but in actuality are setting ourselves up for future misunderstandings. Communication takes a tremendous amount of work and can be exhausting at first….but I think it is essential to work on being clearer and clearer. After all, clean punches feel better than loaded up ones.