Communication 101

The subtitle for this post is “Can you hear me now?”

Not long ago, I asked my youngest child to take her sisters’ folded clothes to their room.  Instead, somehow, she marshaled the troops, and within two minutes, had them both in my room, picking up their own laundry to put away.

Now I know very well that if I had hollered “come pick up your clothes,” they would have sat.  In fact, if I had asked her to ask them to come get their clothes, they would have sat.  However, since it had become her chore, she was now motivated to make sure it got done, and she motivated them.

Communication is a funny thing.  There are parts of the world where if  daughter has bad news, she never tells father, she tells some other family member, who tells father, and the details of how to solve the problem are all figured out without the daughter and father ever having to talk.

There are family systems where everyday communication uses meaner language than I would use with my worst enemy…and they are being loving!

However, across the board, there is a basic.  It is called the communication cycle.  The communication cycle looks like this:

  • Picture in my head
  • Goes through my brain matter and translators
  • Comes out my mouth
  • Goes through the air (and can get garbled via outside noise)
  • Goes in your ear
  • Goes through your brain matter and translators
  • Makes a picture in your head

The communication cycle isn’t complete until the picture in my head is the same as the picture in your head.  Here are some of the common places things go wrong:

  1. Never actually saying what is going on in your head (people can’t read your mind) – this is my most common fault btw.
  2. Only describing the picture in your head and not taking into account your audience’s translators (there is a reason that elementary school teachers teach every subject five different ways).
  3. Distractions – if you have your discussion in a place where there are too many distractions, others won’t hear you.
  4. Leaving the discussion “up in the air” and not trying to reassemble the picture in your listener’s head
  5. Not finishing the loop by providing a process of feedback to make sure the loop was complete.

Well, that’s my thing to work on for the week.  Gotta run!


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