“Ohoo baba, I didn’t mean this at all. I don’t know why you are not getting my viewpoint correctly.” “I’ve some ideas in my mind but don’t know how to elaborate in front of others.”
You might have seen a number of people talking like this or it’s also possible that you yourself might have undergone such situation. It happens quite often when we, despite having ample and perfect material in our mind, completely fail to express it in front of others. Or at times, people don’t understand what we actually want to communicate. And the result is nothing but perplexity, incomprehension, miscommunication and sometimes chaos.
What are the reasons behind this predicament? Why does this confusion take place between the speaker and the listener? Why does a person at times not comprehend what we want to express? What are the things that slow down our smooth and flawless expression of ideas? Ever wondered? Most probably, the majority of you will be nodding their heads in negative. And obviously, all of you would like to overcome this problem. So today, let’s unravel this mystery together and analyse the main points that hamper the efficient expression of thoughts and ideas and also find out their remedies in one go.
Actually, the root-cause which obstructs smooth communication is the selection of words by the speaker and the mindset of the other person (with whom we are communicating). The words we choose to express our ideas and the approach of other person (who’s listening to us) is of chief importance. However, besides these two fundamental elements, there are also other various elements that contribute to the process of miscommunication. To understand all this clearly, read the following paragraphs.
Choice of words
The fundamental reason behind this entire mess is the wrong choice of words. It means that the wording which you are using to express your thoughts are not being conveyed to the listener in the same manner in which you want to communicate. For instance, in your English class you are asked to explain the theme of a poem. In such a situation most of the (average) students despite having a clear vision of the poem in their mind, remain unsuccessful in expressing their thoughts. Actually, they don’t succeed in choosing the appropriate words to explain what they have in their mind. And if somehow they mange to explain, it’s not exactly the same what it should be. As a result they get confused and their ‘body language’ becomes poles apart from their ‘wordings’. And when there is a contradiction between one’s words and body language, it’s bound to bring an undesirable effect upon the listener.
Mindset and attitude of the listener
They say, “The word is half his that speaks it and half his that hears it”. The mindset and approach of the listener towards the words of the speaker is of prime importance. If the listener happens to be pessimistic or narrow minded, he/she for sure won’t (rather won’t try to) understand the speaker’s point of view and will dip his/her statements into the colours of his/her own likes and dislikes. Instead of looking for some good and fruitful aspects s/he’ll always spin out negative conclusions.
Just as the outside weather influences our lives similarly the weather inside us also highly affects us. The feelings of anger, fear, melancholy, vivacity and cheerfulness etc. highly influence the mood of a person and consequently the process of listening and speaking too. At times when we are feeling down, nothing seems good and when there is spring in our heart, we even pardon the biggest tomfoolery of others. I remember a naughty cousin of mine once threw a plastic lizard on his elder sister. Unsurprisingly, she got panicky at once and then grinned at her brother’s prank. But the next time when he played the same prank he was bestowed a thundering slap by his Appee in return. And the reason was that Appee had failed her maths test that particular day.
Every Saturday when you leaf through this particular magazine, besides reading the nitty-gritty of the articles you also read the names of the writers and if s/he happens to be one of your favourite ones, you for sure read his/her write-up first. Why? The simplest answer is that, that paricular writer is more credible and convincing to you as compared to others. You love to read him/her first. So in this context it will not be wrong to mention that the credibility of the speaker also counts a lot. You’ll listen to your favourite teacher (most probably who doesn’t punish you) more attentively as compared to the one who happens to be boring or strict.
The process of listening and speaking is also affected by the substance which is being communicated. The boring material in geography class is bound to fetch nothing except dozing and teasing other class fellows. For this reason, teachers of subjects such as history, geography, etc. are advised to cut some funny jokes in between their lecture so that students don’t get bored to death.
It’s the most irritating and deceitful barrier in the process of smooth communication, which means to add (willingly) “negative meanings” to the wordings of the speaker. At times if the speaker happens to be someone to whom we have lent some money, or who didn’t share his/her lunch with us during recess, or who didn’t lent his bike when we required, in short someone who’s not in our good books, we don’t like to listen to him/her. Even if he’s speaking the heavenly good, we feel it our moral duty to add negative meanings to his/her wordings.
Suggestions, not advice
If we analyse a bit profoundly we come to know that the aforementioned barriers are created by our own attitude. If we somehow manage to gather a little of perseverance and determination in our attitude we for sure can fix these predicaments. However, following are some suggestions that can be fruitful for all of us to explain our viewpoints and listen to that of others:
First of all bear in mind, whether you are communicating with someone orally or sending some written material, it should be neat and clear. If you are having face to face oral discussion, your tidy and trimmed appearance guarantees a positive impact upon the listener. On the other hand, if you are wearing torn jeans, having ‘electrified’ hair (spikes), or emitting hideous body odour, it’s hereby certified that the other person (listener) would want to get rid of you as soon as possible.
Your body language plays a substantial role in this regard. It reflects the inner strength and weakness of one’s personality. So mind it, while elaborating your point of view always remain confident and make good use of your body as well, but don’t be overconfident even by mistake; as they say “Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you.
“To speak and to speak well are two different things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks”. Before uttering anything keep in mind, once you have said something it can’t be taken back.
They say, make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening. Being an intelligent speaker you must be aware of the mood, taste and likes and dislikes of your listeners. If you feel that your listener is getting bored and not listening to you attentively, cutting a joke is not a bad idea. (Hey, it’s not going to work in front of any teacher when you are being tested by him/her).
Recently during a lecture our professor said, “Always listen to learn something”. Whether you are listening to a kid of 10 or and elderly man in his 80s, try to focus on his words not on his face, age, etc.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen to other’s point of view completely, thoroughly and especially with patience as good listening enhances your information about various topics.
Don’t show casual attitude by looking sideways etc. It discourages the speaker. Try to comprehend what the other person actually wants to assert.
If the speaker is having any problem, don’t try to pressurise him/her. Try to place yourself in his/her place and think what would be your stance if you were experiencing the same hitch.
Talk less and listen much as we have been blessed with one tongue and two ears.
If you are listening to some scholar, jotting down the important points of his/her address won’t be a bad idea. It’ll demonstrate your attention towards the speaker.
They say, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold”. Take into account; you can be a good speaker only if you are a good listener.
And last but not the least, if you are male and are not habitual of listening much, do nothing, but merely get married (May Almighty have mercy on you ;) )
(DAWN, November 15, 2008)