On the importance of communication

The last six months has really given me a lot of time to reflect on the importance of communication, and it has been reiterated in the last month with various important discussions I have been a part of.  What we say, how we say it, when we say it, why we say it, and even who we say it to...there is a delicate combination of each of these considerations that makes for successful communication.

My preferred mode of communication is the written word. It has always been the case for me that I feel I can best consider each of these variables when trying to express my thoughts and feelings to others through writing. Even before the internet and e-mail, I preferred writing notes and letters to friends and family to express important thoughts, because it was easier and more natural for me.  I find that when I talk on the phone or in person, any number of these variables cannot be fully honored--the way things are said and the "when" of what is said is dependent on the timing of the opportunity to connect in real-time with someone.  Some days I just don't feel that eloquent. Most days I feel like, when it comes to really important communications, I can't think it all the way through, and say everything I want to say, and I leave the conversation with words roiling in my mind for hours or even days following, dredging all the things I wish I had thought to say at the time.  With writing, I can pick the time and I can carefully pick my words. I have time to consider why I am saying what I am trying to say, and how I want to express it.

The only lingering problem is the Other End--their interpretation of the message and tone (the "what"), and what headspace they are in when they read it (the "when" of receiving the message determining how open or able they are to hearing and processing what is being said).  The most carefully and thoughtfully crafted missive can jag off in the most unexpected and dismaying directions based on how and when it is read by the receiver.  We have no control over that. It's the gamble we take when we use mail or blogs or other forms of written online communication to try and express something significant to others.

I have had a lot of opportunity to think about words, spoken and written, in the last six months. And the thought I keep coming back to is: we are imperfect. As a human, I am imperfect.  I can't say everything right, and even if I did, it wouldn't always be heard the way it was meant. Those we speak to are human and imperfect, and they may not intentionally misconstrue or misunderstand what you say--they have their own experiences which filter what they hear.  And if in the end there still lingers hurt or fear or doubt surrounding what was said, and those involved aren't willing or interested in asking questions--talking it through no matter how hard it seems to do so--and getting to the root of what you really mean (not just what they think they heard), you may forever be misunderstood. And as hard as it is, you have to let that go, knowing you did your best

I can see both sides of this. I can see how hard it is to sincerely try and make yourself understood, and feeling like you have failed no matter how much you poured into it. And I can see those who hear the message through their own personal filters, and feel hurt or confused, but are fearful of digging any deeper and risk feeling more wounded.  I can feel both sides of that equation, and how heartbreaking it can be--you feel trapped by your own words (or inability to find the right ones).  I have been there, and still have lingering wounds...

1 comment:

  1. i totally agree. as a nurse, i relied on written and non=verbal communication. people do interpret very differently, even n same culture. don't u love it when someone takes time to write, it's like buritreasure, a ler or thoughtful email. i really never liked phones. they can be annoying, with telemarketing/wrong numbers, here's to the art of communication.gypsy,keep those great articles comin.



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