Communicating

If we’re going on this journey together, I imagine we’ll have a conversation along the way. It would be a good idea to establish a mutual understanding so that our conversation will be more interesting, civil, and enlightening while also less confusing, contradictory, or argumentative.

When we communicate, we use words and phrases along with nonverbal clues, both intended and unintended.  When I choose a word or phrase, I intend a certain meaning. When you hear me speak or read what I write, you may not comprehend the same meaning that I intend.  We could, therefore, have a misunderstanding.   This is the nature of human communication.  This goes on all of the time—sometimes with very funny consequences or worse. To further complicate matters, the meaning of various words depends upon the context in which they are expressed or perceived—the sentence, the paragraph, the environment, and even the audience.   And of course, we must also consider the nonverbal aspects of the communication.  I may not realize what you are perceiving or interpreting rightly or wrongly.  You may not know the context in which I’m writing.

Experts tell us that most of what we communicate is nonverbal, even when we write.  Now, I’ve already introduced some confusion. The word “nonverbal” describes the communication that occurs in addition to the language.  How can written communication occur without language?  We may need a linguist to help us here, and, to paraphrase the immortal words of Lloyd Benson, yours truly, is no linguist. Anyway, we all read between the lines. And it is that perception or assumption of what is “between the lines” that I consider as the nonverbal communication received but not necessarily intended.

As we travel along this journey together, let’s agree to the following. I’ll do my best to write clearly and succinctly. You do your best to give me the benefit of the doubt as you draw conclusions about what I’ve said or meant. I’ll pay attention to your comments, to the extent I have time, and clarify when it is obvious that I’ve failed to comply with my first rule.  You will always obey my second rule, but will take the time to ask for clarification when you are not sure what I’ve meant.

I’m a life-long educator.  One of the greatest challenges we face as we develop as individuals and as a society, is overcoming our ignorance.  I’m passionate about learning, formal and informal, intended and unintended.  That is why I’m writing this.  Through this effort, perhaps I might develop a little more wisdom, and at the same time, give my readers an equal opportunity to gain as much, or more.

Thanks for your consideration.

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