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6.08.2014

THANKSGIVING TELEPHONE


 
 
It is very interesting to me that much of communication is lost on the hearer.  I mean most of us communicate in our style.  The hearer though hears and interprets those words, thoughts and deliveries into his or her own style.  Something can be lost there.  Pieces drop off.
 
When I was growing up Thanksgiving was held at my grand parents house which was across the road from my parent's house.  There were two tables for that extended family meal; one in the kitchen -the kid table, and the dining room table - designed for adults.  I never minded that arrangement.  It was sort of freeing to be out of ear shot and eye balls from parents. 

The kids invariably ended up playing telephone at the kid table.  It consisted of someone whispering a sentence [completely ridiculous normally so as to confuse the listener] to the person to their left.  There were seven of us first cousins with an age span of about 6 years at its greatest.  The eighth cousin was born later - much!  She was not yet present at the kid table.
 
By the time the sentence was whispered 6 times and ended up in the ear of the 7th cousin, he or she had to say it out loud.  We would normally bust out in laughter as that whispered sentenced had morphed into something that was usually only a mere portion of correctness from its original spoken word.  It's similar to the process of gossip - evolves into usually not much original truth.
 
That is still a resounding picture to me of how communication breaks down between the speaker and the listener.  It happens daily, on some varying degrees, in probably most interactions we have with others.  Though not a game at the Thanksgiving kid table any more, we all struggle to communicate in a powerful and effective way to not only express what we think and feel, but to allow the listener to totally get we are thinking, feeling and saying.  Challenging.
 
I've wondered what the key is over the years.  Partly it has to do with learning to communicate in a way that more closely matches the listener's style of communication.  That though is hard to do - to operate out of your innate style.  It takes purpose and, in the heat of expression, lessening emotions that find their way into our words. 
 
The next part is out of the speaker's control really [other than what I stated above].  It's  hard to control anything past ourselves.  So, controlling the listener's emotions is not totally possible.  It's far too easy as a listener [I am one too!] to insert your own take, your own interpretation, your own emotions into what you are hearing.  At that point sometimes is where communication is lost.
 
I truly hate that.  Expression is good.  It's healthy and vital to processing and moving forward - to acknowledging a fact or a feeling and figuring out how to let it go or change our perspective on it. 
 
I often think back to the kid table at my grandparent's Thanksgiving.  After the words left the speaker's mouth where did the breakdown of what was said take place?  At the second person is my best guess.  And then, with each passing whisper, each individual listener listened and interpreted according to their style.  That's why at the end there was no real integrity to what was originally spoken.

I want to work on that in my own life.  I want to communicate so clearly
that the hearers of what I say are more able to listen and interpret what
was said so that the integrity of the message is heard. 

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