Friday, September 28, 2012

Of Communication


The one thing that we human beings – the so-called ‘social animal’ – rely upon is Communication. Surprisingly, this is the same thing that we seem to be extremely bad at, at least most of us. There is not a single thing that we can say that is not open to misinterpretation.
Take as simple a thing as the routine greeting “Good Morning!” I have had responses ranging from the routine “Good Morning” (or ‘Morning” from the super-bosses!) to the combative “What is so good about this morning?” to the ill-willed “So! You think I will not even know it is morning unless you tell me so?” It seems like this ordinary phrase can mean a pleasantry to some, a statement of incorrect fact to others and an insult to the ultra-sensitive few!
What, then, can be said about the longer sentences? When a husband says, “Today the meal was really delicious” one can imagine reactions ranging from pleasure to “So it was not good all this while?” to “Am I your cook that I should satisfy you?” depending upon whether it is taken as praise or as implied criticism or as a patronizing gesture. The way it is taken seems to have scant little to do with the words that are used.
When you call up a friend and he responds, “I am busy now. Can we talk later?” what do you think? Do you take it literally to mean that he is stuck with something or that he is acting pricey or that he is trying to avoid you? Every communication seems to communicate a lot more than the mere words – because it is interpreted through a prism of past history, the circumstances of the people concerned as well as the expectations that they have of each other.
If from sentences that are, in and of themselves, inoffensive there is so much offense that can be taken, what then can be said of words of criticism? “You do not look good in this hairdo!” is simply an invitation to responses ranging from “If you think I am ugly, why did you marry me?” to “So, you do not love me nowadays” to “Who is that other woman?”
I always wonder why people will do this to themselves. It seems to me that the meaning read into words is invariably the interpretation that causes the most hurt to the person doing the interpretation. It seems to me that people hate the idea of being happy – considering that they invariably seem to bend all their capabilities to find their way to misery!

26 comments:

  1. Ha ha ha:):D
    1.Observation: A great write!
    2.Question:How do you know about the misery of a husband?
    3.Conclusion:"People hate the idea of being happy – considering that they invariably seem to bend all their capabilities to find their way to misery"
    Thank you Suresh for a smiling, happy, goodmorning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Amit! The observer actually sees more clearly than the participant :)

      Delete
  2. HAHAHA....quite true...Barriers to communication always exist, each word, every alphabet and even the intonation or stress on different words can have different impact on people as well as you. The impact is more volatile if the person concerned is your wife :p :p :p
    A good take on communication. Keep posting

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Asimov had said that words were invented to hide emotions. Yet, the success depends greatly on the art of the users. To put it in brief, sentences are apparently not what they are. Many greetings are what is termed as 'phetic communion'. There responses are pre-determined by the culture. Many are meant the other way round.

    A fine, reflective post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite true, Uma that what is said is not always apparent in the words that are said. Also true that, quite often, the only purpose reading between the lines serves is to hurt yourself :)

      Delete
  4. I think that's the way we make our simple lives complicated. Instead of taking positiveness in the questions proposed, the negative answers create the whole pblm. I wonder what kind of a woman would not be happy when she is complimented the meal is delicious? Simple post that lot needs to be thought about..before replying..:)

    ReplyDelete
  5. So far the best sting I have given was to a long forgotten girl friend whom I met in a mall after 17 years with her hubby and two children, she came out of a blind corner and said "Hi, Balu, how are you" I said "Hi ....., what an unpleasant surprise" and walked on

    ReplyDelete
  6. Haha ! Well, since you are a bachelor, you have escaped the worst of it ! If you talk to my better half, he will tell you how long he has struggled to say the 'correct' things but now he is wiser and chooses to hide behind the newspaper with a inconsequential..'Hmmm'

    -Ash

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually it looks like he has learnt that saying nothing is best :)

      Delete
  7. love this post...cud totaly relate to it specialy the 2nd para,pecialy once i over heard my daughter say the same ova the ph to a frn whats so gud bou d mrng.n den nothr thn i found funny wen a frn of hers call her et 3am n asked prob r u slpn ot sumthn of dt sort she replies no m playn football at 3am what o u want....lol

    ReplyDelete
  8. I guess we think happiness is too illusive, CS. Might as well give in, think the worst and be miserable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you cannot beat it wallow in it, huh KayEm? :)

      Delete
  9. Hmm, Now I am wondering what comment I should put here that would not get misinterpreted! :) The last two lines are so very true. Feuds, disputes, arguments etc - The root cause of most of them is trying to find meanings beyond the face value of uttered sentences!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! I knew that I could not be totally wrong - that someone would agree with me :)

      Delete
  10. Interesting analysis. But that is how it is. Human communications are so much more complicated than what words alone can convey. Seeing umashankar's comments, I am reminded of second foundationers who understand each other without mediation of words.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mmmm! Telepathy is far more reliable provided you have the ability :)

      Delete
  11. I love to be happy and that is why I am always happy. I do not let anything bog me down beyond a point. Also, ii believe it if my friend tells me he is busy :D

    ReplyDelete