Where we go wrong in communicating…

Jenny told her new friend, Sal, that her Dad was semi-retired. When Sal met Dad a few days later, she spoke slowly and cautiously to Dad. Sal refused an invite to go out for dinner with Jenny’s family the next day.

Dad in the meanwhile worked hard at getting the two girls settled in their new flat. A few days later, while Dad was picking up a few last things at the shops, Sal said to Jenny, “Your Dad does really well considering…”

Jenny, confused, asked “Considering what??”

Sal, eyes rolling, said “Considering that he’s semi-retarded”!!

Semi-retired. Semi-retarded. It’s easy to mis-hear words but this is the smallest issue in terms of communicating. Even though we communicate daily, hourly, and even when we’re NOT communicating, we’re not always that good at it.

Why is that? You’d think that with all the practice we get, we’d be really good at it.

Here’s why: we get bombarded by so much information that our neurology filters out most of it so that our conscious mind can work with a reasonable amount of data. Our filters are informed by our beliefs, language, values, memories and more. What happens because of these filters is that our internal picture does not exactly match the external picture (in fact, often it’s way off the external picture). We react emotionally and physically to the internal picture NOT THE EXTERNAL ONE, and then we behave according to our emotional reaction.

If you have one external event and 3 people, then you’ll also have 3 differing internal pictures. It makes sense then that communicating is difficult because we can’t see the internal picture that the other person is holding!

Assuming this is true – how do we communicate better? We have to talk about the external event, the internal picture we carry and our emotional reaction. If you tell this to the other person, they’ll be a lot closer to seeing your internal picture as it is.

When you are late coming home (external event), I feel anxious and upset (emotional state) because I see you being hijacked(internal picture). It may seem neurotic but we do live in a high crime zone (this informs the filters). Then when you walk in the door whistling, I loose my temper (behaviour).

When you talk about what is happening, the latecomer can begin to see your internal picture and a mutual understanding is developed.

This does go a long way to clearing up the communication. But there’s more….

What about when you are listening to someone else? What can you do to get a clearer picture of their internal word? Mail me with your ideas on kirsten@coach4life.co.za and I’ll share the ideas next time.

In the meanwhile – keep your communication clear!




About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
This entry was posted in Communication, Life Mastery, Relationships. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Where we go wrong in communicating…

  1. Dan Black says:

    Wonderful story/example. It’s so important to be clear when communicating. I think this means keeping your words simple and body language inline with what your saying. Great post.

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