It’s like having the secret map in your pocket. It’s no accident that this topic comes first. This Topic is just absolutely critical to success and happiness. Simon says, Remove your foot from your mouth. Parts of this may seem obvious, but importantly, if we have a crystal-clear understanding of the process, then we can reverse-engineer for better outcomes.
Haven’t we all received responses that were the complete opposite of what we were expecting? Ever had an email go completely wrong? Have you ever angered someone when you were trying to bond with them?
Here’s an advanced communication lesson, I would like to share with you. Communication is a multi-step process, and if we know where to look for the pitfalls, we can enjoy more success.
1. In the story below, Buzz has a thought he wants to share with Beebee, step one.
2. Buzz prepares his presentation of his thought translation. Without even realizing it, instantaneously, Buzz does his very best to translate that thought into words, step two.
a. Buzz’s own translation is already being affected by all kinds of influences, like:
1. How he feels about Beebee
2. How he feels about the topic
3. How Buzz thinks Beebee is likely to feel about the topic or Buzz’s opinion
4. How what he had for breakfast is agreeing with him
5. Whether he has gotten enough sleep
6. Who may be listening
7. What other matter may be really pressing on his mind, right now
ii. Outside influences
1. The weather
2. The noise level
3. Beebee’s posture (Is Beebee glancing around, or paying attention?)
4. World events
5. That fly buzzing around Buzz’s nose
6. The bat flying around behind Beebee
1. Does Buzz know Beebee as well as he thinks he does?
2. Is Buzz correct in his assumptions about Beebee’s position on the topic?
3. Has Buzz correctly assessed Beebee’s current mood?
4. Are there other issues that could become entwined with the subject?
5. Can you think of other factors that might influence Buzz’s presentation?
3. Buzz transmits his translation over to Beebee, step three. Now, realize, the communication has gone through three steps, before it has even been received by Beebee. Unless Buzz is perfect today, some damage to the message has already occurred, and Beebee has not even become involved yet.
a. If they’re speaking face-to-face, Buzz might use:
1. Words that can have different meanings to different people
ii. Body language
1. Facial expressions (maybe, he even just winks)
3. Is Buzz appearing to be disinterested, or is he distracted for some reason?
b. If it’s written, Buzz can give even fewer clues as to his meaning.
i. Is he teasing in a way he hopes Beebee will feel they are on the same side?
ii. What was Beebee doing when the message was received?
4. Beebee has now received the transmission, step four.
a. How good was the reception? Was the receipt complete? Was the receipt correct? Was there static, or noise? Was Beebee distracted or otherwise prevented from proper receipt of the message or the whole, complete message?
5. Beebee will now translate the transmission - as received (for better or worse) - and subject to all the issues above, and more, step five.
A communication has just taken place, and have a look at all the places and all the ways it may have gone wrong.
The moral of the story is, We need to understand and appreciate our own role, and be considerate of our partners, when communicating. With the simplest communication, we have several chances to miss-communicate, even with the very best of intentions. It’s a wonder if anyone every really knows exactly what someone else is thinking.
The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning. (in a letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888)
- Mark Twain
The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
(in a letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888)