I can easily become a ‘grumpy old woman’ about communication – it is such a blunt instrument. So many difficulties are created by people assuming they understand and, because they believe they know what’s been said, they don’t bother to check.
So how does it go?
I talk to you with a specific picture in my mind of what I want to say. The words do a great job, in conjunction with that picture, so I assume what I’m saying is perfectly clear.
You listen to me and form a picture in your mind that fits well with the words you’ve heard me say, so you assume you’re on the right track.
We continue to talk, each building on our individual pictures, confirming each view that we understand each other.
We forget to check out whether the pictures match, so end up in confusion. ‘What is the matter with you – that’s not what I said at all!’
All for the want of a question.
I’m noticing it even more at the moment. Researching a subject like Women and Confidence evokes a reaction in many people. And they don’t hold back. Don’t pause to ask what I’m finding – just wade in with their assumptions.
Imagine the scene: I meet someone new, who does the polite thing of asking what I’m working on. So I start to explain – ‘I’m presently researching ……..’ Sometimes I don’t even get to finish the sentence before they launch into an explanation of why women have low confidence. I’d love to be able to tell you what is said, but I’ve generally switched off.
I don’t think it’s just this subject, although it does evoke some very interesting responses. I think people generally don’t often truly listen. Mostly they listen for the gap so they can get back on broadcast.
I have wondered if social media has a part to play – after all Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, they all invite us to tell what we’re doing or what we think. There is some conversation, but it is still primarily ‘telling’ my idea rather than finding out more about yours. So I’m sure it contributes to the demise of true conversation.
However, it’s not the full answer, since many who avoid social media are also surgically attached to broadcast. They want their say. They don’t really want to know what you think, experience or feel.
OK – my broadcast about broadcast is nearly over.
I invite you to play with the notion of listening. How often are you asked to explain what you mean? How often does someone check they’ve understood what you’re trying to say? And how often do you ask a question to explore another person’s point of view?
Let me know what you find please. Help me regain my confidence in human nature – there have to be some great listeners out there!
Women and Confidence Research – if you would like to take part, link on Facebook or Twitter and let me know. I’d love to hear from you