A man and his wife had been arguing all night, and as bedtime approached neither was speaking to the other. It was not unusual for the pair to continue this war of silence for two or three days. However, on this occasion the man was concerned; he needed to be awake at 4:30am the next morning to catch an important flight and being a very heavy sleeper, he normally relied on his wife to wake him.
Cleverly (so he thought), while his wife was in the bathroom, he wrote on a piece of paper: “Please wake me at 4:30am – I have an important flight to catch.”
He put the note on his wife’s pillow, then turned over and went to sleep.
The man awoke the next morning and looked at the clock. It was 8:00am. Enraged that he’d missed his flight, he was about to go in search of his errant wife to give her a piece of his mind, when he spotted a hand-written note on his bedside cabinet.
The note said: “It’s 4:30am – get up” .
Insert Laugh-Track here 🙂
Our communication with others may not be as dysfunctional as the couple in the story, but we all probably have room to improve in this area. I like to think that I am an expert in the area of communications since I earned Bachelor’s Degree in that discipline. My wife must have been a Theater Arts major because when I talk, she “acts” like she is listening.
Anyway, in order to properly communicate, we have to convey the right message in the right way and then it must be interpreted the way that we intended. If our message is taken the wrong way or interpreted differently then healthy communication has not taken place.
When working with groups, I have borrowed a little activity from communication specialist Betsy Butterick, which asks a volunteer to say only one word (“Oh”) in response to various phrases. It highlights that our tone of voice, facial expressions, non-verbals, and the fact that words can mean different things to different people can all impact how a message might be misinterpreted. We could say “Oh” when we are happy, surprised, confused, excited, sarcastic, sad, enlightened, etc…
When we communicate with others, remember that they might not be on the same page as we are. Communication issues cause so many problems in our lives. It is important that we remember to be as clear, positive, relevant, and productive as we can with our communication. We might also need to communicate the same message repeatedly using different methods. The goal of communication is not that we did it but that our message is interpreted correctly by whatever audience we are addressing.