Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Use more words: own your part of clear communication

Life would be so much easier if people just took more responsibility for making their message clear.

In any conversation, there are two people.  One person is trying to convey information, and the other is supposed to be trying to receive it.  

A lot of people use a few words, and then get pissy when the other person doesn't understand.  That's a simple case of "use more words" - the speaker has a responsibility to say enough to make information transfer happen. The speaker has a responsibility to not get pissy when the recipient can't read his, or her, or FYU, mind.

The more common point of communication conflict is that the recipient isn't actually listening. This is a common joke, which isn't actually funny, that "People just stand around waiting for their turn to talk."  When someone isn't actually paying attention to what is being said, there is no communication.  People pick fights with the noise in their heads, and take it out on the people around them.

This is another common point of communication conflict.  If someone asks a question, usually that person is looking for information.  However, I know people who "ask questions" as a way of expressing their anger and frustration. They're not really looking for information, they're just pushing the blame onto their target.  For example, "Didn't it ever occur to you that was so stupid!" isn't really looking for information, it's saying "I think that was really stupid," without bothering to own the emotion itself.

To clarify, if I think you did something stupid, then that's just it - *I* own the thought that you did something stupid. The appropriate way for me to express that is to say "I think you did something stupid."  The "passive aggressive" way for me to express it is to say "Didn't it ever occur to you that was so stupid!" - I'm pushing the blame for the thought in my head onto you.  Which, when you think about it, is kind of a shitty thing to do.

So, to recap, 
  • As speaker, you have to use enough words to pass along enough information that your recipient can understand what you are trying to say;
  • As information recipient, you have to actually be paying attention and putting effort into understanding what the speaker is trying to convey. You can't just sit around waiting for your turn to talk;
  • If you ask a question, put some thought into it, to make sure you 1) get the information you are looking for, 2) aren't just being a "passive aggressive" jerk.

(Finally, go ahead, be a smartass and pretend you don't understand anything I've written.  Oh, ha ha.  I'm going to ignore obvious taunts and trolls - I just don't have the energy for games right now. If you really want clarification, just say so. Thanks.)

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