When I was in 8th grade, there were these few guys in my class who would, at the most random times, make the most obnoxious and inaccurate claims that they could come up with. It was always something along the lines of, “ I’m better than you because I’m taller”, or the cliched- “ That band is so gay!”.
Now the rest of us, appalled, would begin to spout out all sorts of facts to prove them wrong (Enough that we could probably write a thesis paper on it if given the opportunity). And in all this heated discussion that was being carried out with all seriousness from our end, as we listed every single legitimate argument we knew of, and used the most intellectually sounding phrases, the only reply we ever got from them was just shaking heads and a mocking,
“Nah, that doesn’t make any sense, I can’t understand you”, with a disinterested look and a hidden smirk to top it off.
Trust me, hair-pulling frustration couldn’t even begin to describe our states.
But well, as a pretty tight-knit class of close friends, we never ended up getting genuinely mad at each other, and sooner or later, many of us learned and stopped reacting, much to the guys’ dismay, because we realised they were never serious about it in the first place.
(Well… if I think about it, it must’ve been pretty funny to see back then, but I digress.)
The point I’m coming to here is that I learned my lesson:
Communication isn’t key.
At least not the commonly acknowledged definition of it. Communication is defined as the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviours to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.
The greatest misconception of communication is that people tend to focus on only a part of the definition, i.e. getting themselves heard out. The one thing that poses a contradiction to this belief is that the greatest speakers of all times never did this. Their goal, while it was to make others listen to them, was to understand and be understood by others.
Now, of course, not all of us can be great orators, so we need to try and approach the problem in another way. We need to play the role of more receptive recipients for each other. We need to understand that not everything can be expressed the way it is intended to be, and hence give that leeway to each other.
“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” ~Peter Drucker
The Grooves of the Key
There is a difference between two ‘one-sided conversations’ and one ‘two-sided conversation’. Because what is the point of a lock and key, if they don’t ever fit together?
And that brings me back to my initial statement. i.e. ‘Communication’ isn’t the most important aspect.
What matters more is comprehension.
And it’s not just whether your audience comprehends your point or not. It is also your own comprehension.
Comprehension of the person in front of you. Comprehension of the way they perceive and understand things. Comprehension of the way you need to ‘communicate’ to get your point across to that particular person. And most importantly, comprehension of the recipient’s mindset itself. Because there’s no point screaming yourself hoarse if they were never willing to hear you out in the first place.
We as humans have gone to such extents into hearing out the seemingly mute Universe despite its lack of medium, and have even succeeded in this venture after several decades of effort.
So is it too much to wish for even a sliver of that effort to be put towards our own species, our own people?
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~ Epictetus, Greek Philosopher
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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