When Words FailEmail This Post
Communication is often complicated and complex. We rely largely upon verbal communication, more often than not. We rely so heavily upon words.
Words can fail us. Words can fail to convey what we really feel or actually mean. Words that we may choose to use that we believe are the best vehicles to convey our thoughts, feelings, and/or intentions aren’t always experienced the in the same way by our intended receiver.
Sometimes though we know the actual definition of the words we use and that others use there are different frames of reference that we use to conceptualize what any given word means to us.
When words fail and communication goes awry, when feelings are hurt, or tempers flare, it is important to back up our words with as much compassion and visible signs of our intention as we can muster.
When we are face to face with the person who we are communicating with there are usually many ways we can bridge the gap between our feelings and thoughts and our intentions and the failure of our words to be received as we’d hoped they would be.
When we are in email, or on the phone, it is a whole other story often isn’t it? On the phone we can try to bridge the gap of any miscommunication via our words by adding a tone that may reach the person who for whatever reason hasn’t heard our words the way we intended them to be received.
Online, we can try to use emoticons. However, when words fail us online, often we end up meeting, if that is geographically possible or we end up finding a way to use voice chat or to speak on the phone to clarify misunderstandings that result from reading the printed word on the computer screen.
When words fail us in the sense that we do not feel heard in the way that we intended to be, it is important to not take the initial reaction of the receiver personally. It is human to react to what we are understanding – even misunderstanding – until things get clarified. It is equally important to remember, when you are the person on the receiving end of another’s words, to keep in mind the entire context within which they are communicating to you.
All-too-often in interpersonal communication we assume way too much about the things that we aren’t receiving the way someone has intended us to understand their words. There can be frustration if another isn’t understanding what our words are meaning.
When words fail us it is so important to pause, if even only for a few seconds, to re-group, to settle our emotions, and to clarify what the person we are communicating with actually meant. Making assumptions about what someone else meant or assuming that someone else has understood us is often a way that we unintentionally can end up feeling hurt or invalidated or misunderstood.
When words us fail us all we need is mutual respect and a little time coupled with a more dedicated effort to really hear what someone wants us to know and/or to really communicate the entirety of our own stated communication.
When words fail, we must ask ourselves, are we really listening?
© A.J. Mahari – All rights reserved.
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