Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hearing and listening -- what is really being said

One thing that gets my attention every-so-often is when there is a rift between what is being said and what is being meant. I usually find those by reading conflicts where the people appear to be talking past each other.

For example, on the Snarkernacle (e.g. here as well as other places), if they post a parody or a snark that offends you or hurts your feelings and you send them an e-mail, they take it down. Every time, like clockwork. But, there is someone who posts as anonymous (and I suspect more than one someone) who has had their feelings hurt and is really upset about it.

The two talk past each other. For their situation, I don't have a solution.

But, if you find yourself repeating something and getting the same response back that seems to miss the point, assume that you are not communicating and that whatever they are saying, isn't what they mean to communicate.

Sometimes you even need to explain the difference. Such as when my wife sat our six-year-old down and explained that when many adults said "would you please do ..." they meant "do ... now!" but were being nice about it, not giving her an option (which is what she heard from the words and the word combinations they used).

Sometimes you need to figure out the difference. But in a relationship that matters to you, it is worth it. I'll write next on figuring out who is being talked to. Sometimes the words may go to you, but the person talking is talking to someone else. It helps if you figure that out.

1 comment:

Téa said...

This is very interesting to me, Stephen. I've certainly had experiences where talking past each other has occurred but I figure it's a lost cause. I really enjoy reading your thoughts on relationships--it always gives me something new to think about!