Confounded Conversationalists

For all of the talking that we humanoids do, we certainly get very little actual Stuff resolved. Our individual biases and filters make it far too easy to hear things with a skew that makes every verbal interaction less of a conversation and more of a convoluted Baroque dance performance. It’s not just that I often realize, after having haggled at length over any given topic with anybody from my husband on outward to complete strangers, that we are in fact sharing the same view, but stating it so differently that we might as well be talking entirely different languages. It’s also not easily brushed off as a problem specific to age, sex, political or religious affiliations, educational status, culture or any of those other Issues we get hung up on all the time; those can play into the ‘failure to communicate‘ plenty, to be sure, but I think there might be a little something broken or at least unfinished in us that makes us almost preternaturally unable to fully and clearly communicate with each other on a consistent basis.

Photo montage: Grizzolar Talk

Does my commentary seem especially grisly to you, or do you just automatically give it the cold shoulder?

We can do it. If we simply couldn’t, not ever, why then we wouldn’t know the difference. So it’s silly of us not to spend at least as much energy on learning to communicate with each other better as we do on miscommunicating or simply failing to even try. I am past-master at garbling what I meant to say, or saying things in such a way that everybody else on the planet hears something different from what I thought I was expressing—I’ve long since outed myself for having that particular foot-in-mouth gift. I guess that means I had better clean out my ears, open my heart, get my brains in better order, and let other, more skillful communicators do the talking more often, and just sit back and listen and learn. Though of course there’s still the possibility that I’m hearing it fine yet completely misinterpreting the information. It goes that way a lot in my particular part of the planet.

11 thoughts on “Confounded Conversationalists

  1. And into the communication mix goes the emotional element that both the sender and receiver have, and are never the same. It is like one person is sending the message on AM radio while the receiver is listening to FM. It’s all radio, right?

    • So much so that I sometimes wonder if I’m a candidate for wearing a tinfoil hat. 😉 But you are exactly right: we are—we *need* to be—invested in our point of view, so real conversations are inherently hard. But worth it, of course, or we’d all just go off to our little random hiding places and wither in silence. 🙂

  2. I have had the joy of spending a lot of time speaking with young children. They teach us how to communicate; keep it simple, paint a picture with words, and do not assume anything. And they never hesitate to ask for clarification if they don’t understand. Yes, it is a joy!

    • It’s definitely a significant factor that we seldom remember as “grownups”: children are better at many forms of communication and learning and interaction than adults, both as speakers and as listeners. It’s only when they’ve been thoroughly inculcated with their caregivers’ and teachers’ biases and beliefs that they lose more and more of that skill set. Silly us.

  3. I’m not particularly good at conversation, Kathryn … feel overwhelmed by the ‘talking all at once’ world as it seems to have become. And, so, I write – still, no one might listen, but at least I get can it out and move on. But, your reflection is good – discussion is good, but only when I wish for understanding (on all sides) accompanies it, I think 🙂 XO ❤

    • Yes, I’m often overwhelmed, too, by the noise of so many people and factions whose interest is generally only in hearing the sounds of their own voices (and perhaps additionally, in having everyone else admire the same). It’s one of the pleasant surprises of life in the blogging community that the particular people in whose midst I’ve landed are pretty thoughtful and caring correspondents. And, of course, when I need to do so I can close the computer for a bit and let even that noise simmer away from my notice until I’m ready to rejoin the conversation. Your notes and posts always invite the pleasurable and meaningful kind, so I’m *always* glad to ‘hear your voice’!

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