Me: What are you singing? Is that Thriller?
Jim: No, Rob and Big.
Me: The TV show? Oh, the best friend song?
Jim: No. Wait – Rob and Big sing that song? That’s them?
Me: What’s them?
Jim: Is it Robin Big?
Me: Who? Wait. Are you talking about Robin Thicke…?
There’s something deliciously entertaining about the confusion of a simple miscommunication.
I work in communications, and while amusing at times, it can be a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s wonderful to refine the art of interpersonal relationships–a privilege even–to connect people to information, dispel fears and enlighten.
On the other hand, it’s distressing to be aware of how the subtlest words and gestures can derail a well thought-out message. And when you have to share really hard news, things that take an emotional toll on you, that’s not comfortable for anyone. You know when a dog cringes and howls at a noise you can’t even hear? Well, I have canine-esque hearing for run-on sentences and misleading information. I couldn’t stop editing the world around me if I tried, and my standards for how people should talk to one another are a pipe dream.
Communications is more than what first meets the eye. My interpretation of an email, a news broadcast or even a menu doesn’t stop at its words; it expands to consider why things are presented a certain way, who a message is intended for and the author’s intent.
Most people don’t dedicate their careers to improving the exchange of words and ideas, this I know. Even so, I often find myself questioning the outcomes of situations, and what could’ve happened if things were presented differently or heard another way. Even considering how we listen–whether to understand or to reply–makes a world of difference.
To communicate effectively, you must think beyond your words and what you’re trying to say, and instead look at what you’d like to achieve. What path, tools and structure will ultimately get you to your end goal? It’s not about stating what you feel or explaining what you want; it’s about creating an environment where information and thoughts can be shared and received openly.
It’s not easy. Ahem, IT IS NOT EASY. But when it works, man–it’s pure goodness. It’s what makes my mojo go. A remarkable thing happens when connections are made and results achieved, simply by altering how information and feelings are presented.