Tuesday, April 30, 2013

It Takes Two

As an English major, writer, and human being, I am acutely aware that what you say usually isn't what is heard.

That's usually a problem.

Anyone who's dated know this firsthand.  You say one thing, he hears another.  That's the issue with communication is that there are TWO people involved.  Two very different people with different sets of vocabulary, connotations, backgrounds, upbringings, and slang.

We're not even getting into body language here, just words for the moment.

My belief is that it is the responsibility of the communicator to do their best to ensure that the listener is understanding what is being communicated in the intended way.

I believe that, if I am saying, "I love the way you look tonight," to you, that it is my responsibility to have you understand that as I intended it.  If you interpret that saying to mean, "I love that dress," instead of "I love your make-up tonight," I as the speaker should try again, considering what I know of you as the listener and trying to adhere to my listener's lens.

Do you agree?  Disagree?

I think blogger Sharif said it the best in his comment on my blog post last week:
"Communication takes at least two. Speaking parties and listening parties. While the speaker should communicate in a manner to best facilitate understanding with every texture of a word, the listener should also be making adjustments by understanding who the other person is."
Communication is a two-way street, but I'm finding that people often forget their responsibility as a communicator.  They put all of the "blame" on the listeners and forget that as the communicator, they have a more active power to affect understanding. 

We need to acknowledge everyone has their own set of experiences, culture, and interactions.  As a result, communication is a rich and dynamic experience.  However, with the invention of the Internet, we need to pay extra attention to what we say and how we say it because people are listening.  Don't forget that there is always an audience.

Soli Deo Gloria.