Screaming At A Brick Wall…

Communication is hard. One wouldn’t think so, given that we live in an age where we have so many different ways to do it. With electronic communications and social media becoming all the rage in the past two decades, one would be inclined to think our ability to communication would have increased and improved. But it continues to amaze me how many if not most people have difficulty communicating effectively. And I’ve observed a number fo reasons for that. Let’s explore this line of thinking a little bit…

I remember an instance years ago when I was texting my wife about supper. She was at work and nearing the end of her day and was no doubt tired and looking forward to coming home. She asked if I had eaten yet, to which I replied “no why did you want to eat with me?” Read that poorly crafted sentence once more time… Do you notice what’s missing? I didn’t, until my wife came home and appeared to be upset with me. What I SHOULD have replied with is, “No, why? Did you want to eat with me?” This would have been a correct sentence structure and would have posed the question as whether my wife wanted to have supper with me. The lack of punctuation in the first one basically makes it look like I’m an asshole questioning WHY she wants to eat with me.

This is a pretty simple example, but a pretty accurate one as it relates to written communication. We live in a society where text messaging and messaging apps have become the primary means of communication. There are plenty of jokes floating around about one’s phone ringing and the the recipient thinking, why aren’t they just texting me? before ignoring the call. I’ll admit that I’ve been guilty of doing that very thing on more than one occasion. Much to the chagrin of the people trying to call. I make exceptions for the folks I know who don’t use text messaging, like my mother. But otherwise, come on! That totally could have been a text!

All jokes aside, grammar and punctuation play an important role in how one’s message is relayed. In a world of emojis and abbreviations over text-written communication, it can be difficult to discern the sender’s intended message. It can be EASY to misinterpret it and assume a different message than what the sender meant. Plus, communicating through a device or by text takes away all those little aspects of communication that humans have spent their entire existence using, such as hand movements, body language and facial expressions. If you’re on a date and the girl says, “You’re an idiot!” but laughs and gently places her hand on your shoulder, you’ll likely be inclined to be relaxed and assume it has an affectionate meaning. If she looks at you with a frown or screams it at you, she may genuinely think you’re an idiot. But I digress…

The point is that body language plays a bit part in how effective one’s communication can be and how the message is interpreted. But even bigger than that, is the fact that communicating effectively requires a minimum of two parties. there’s nothing worse than trying to communicate with someone who’s shut down, distracted or not listening. Sensei always used to tell me that I have two ears and only one mouth, so I should listen twice as much as I talk. I always thought that was so clever of him. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would find out the expression was coined by the greek philosopher Epictetus. But regardless of the source, they’re wise words, nonetheless.

Communication is a core aspect of socialization. In a world where the average person spends their day with their neck craned over a smart device, two-way communication with another person in good conversation is also part of a person’s mental wellbeing. Even people who “prefer to be alone” eventually get lonely. Although some people can sit together in comfortable silence, this usually isn’t achieved with the average pairing of people in everyday situations. Communication must be a two-way street, with both parties actively listening AND hearing and both parties contributing. This can mean the difference between effective communication or being misunderstood, whether type-written or in person. Food for thought… ☯️

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

2 thoughts on “Screaming At A Brick Wall…”

  1. Good one. I’ve been watching Cobra Kai in between everything else going on lately, and it’s amazing how every problem in the series comes down to miscommunication and negative assumptions. I’ve watched communication skills, especially written communication, go into the toilet the last 15 or so years. Twitter and text messaging are key offenders here, but even publishing companies are eliminating double spaces at the end of sentences, as well as commas simply to cut costs. It all matters.

    Grammar: The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.

    Like

    1. Agreed. I was somewhat taken aback when a recent update to our computer software at work did the same thing. The autocorrect identifies it as an error if I put two spaces after a period. But between emojis, needless acronyms and the intentional misspellings of many common words, it’s made communication an absolute mess.

      Liked by 1 person

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