I read an interesting article yesterday and then followed that up with an even more interesting conversation with a friend today, that went something like this; “how do I know what you mean when you say you are ‘happy’ to me?”, Well, thinks I, it all depends on what I mean by happy and by what you mean by happy. And in that moment was a little glimmer of clarity about something I am aware of, nay, even talk about, but hadn’t fully understood or appreciated and that is that our experience of life (and thus our communication of it to others) is essentially, only ever about OUR EXPERIENCE of it thus far.
What do I mean by that? I think that if you asked 20 people in a room to write down on a piece of paper what their definition of one of the ‘intangible words, such as happiness, trust, love etc… is, that you would find 20 different explanations of it. Each one of those explanations is true (for that individual); it cannot be wrong or incorrect, because we have no single understanding of what that word means except in how we have experienced it so far in our life, and how we have expressed it to others.
Yet, at the heart of it all, this is where the problem with communication lies. I see it all the time in area of Internet Marketing that I work with. In fact a goodly proportion of my job is about ‘translating’ into common English what others are often talking in acronyms about. Take that scenario and put it into a relationship of any kind between one or more people, and you have a recipe for misunderstanding, toys, dummys and prams all being thrown around.
All that’s needed, isn’t necessarily that I understand and/or accept your meanings behind the words that you use, simply that I appreciate that they may be different to mine – and in that simple act, we automatically improve our communication process but only if it’s two way.