01 March 2015

Communication, Or The Lack Thereof

Periodically, I have been asked for advice (spiritual or otherwise) by on-line contacts; at times, this has led to unintended results. Some humorous; others not so much.

Written communication with those whom you don't know well can be difficult. (Business language is well-developed and formalized to the "cut & dried" stage, for a reason.) The loss of intonation, body language, facial expression and even hand gestures can make interpretation of messages more a minefield than a conversation. Great care is required, as even the best of intentions can be misinterpreted, and the lack of a common frame of reference can make it even more tricky.

Further complicating the issue, there are said to be six layers in interpersonal communication, completely apart from body language, inflection and tone of voice, etc.:

1. What I mean to say
2. What I actually say
3. What I think it meant

4. What you hear
5. What you think I intended
6. What it meant to you

Note that #3 and #6 may be miles apart.

The first time it came up via e-mail, I was unprepared for the pitfalls, and it began badly. Establishing a rapport - something that seems so easy to accomplish, face to face - was much more difficult than I'd anticipated. Nevertheless, requests continue to come in, and that's okay. 

In person, I have used humor, when appropriate, to lighten the mood. This does not always work via the written word; the success depends in large part upon that "common frame of reference" which is missing in the early parts of a written communication. It has forced me to consider the written word even more closely than before, which is a good thing.

Sometimes the misunderstandings proceed from a false sense of familiarity, such as TV viewers may feel toward an actor who's in their living room on a weekly basis. Someone who has read posts on another's blog may think they know that blogger well. That may or may not be true.

The blogger may have left much out, and there are quite probably undertones that alter the circumstances. Those things which have been left unsaid may affect the situation quite differently than suspected.

There are more requests these days than previously; it's probably God's own grace that had me learning how to handle these things, before the number of contacts began to grow. I'm by no means perfect, and won't be - this side of Heaven. But I'm learning, and I'm much better at it than I was.

By next week, I ought to be perfect.


* * * * *

For a seven-day period each month, I hand the after-hours and weekend calls to an assistant. Tuesday evening is the first of that period for March, and so I will be gloriously free of the on-duty cellphone. The sense of liberation from that 24/7 on-call status can be quite heady at times; rolling the line to the assistant's phone leaves me wanting to dance in the parking lot. 

I'll try to contain myself. But it's awfully nice to be able to relax fully, after work.

* * * * *

It's 26° with a freezing/frosty fog this morning. No precip is forecast until Tuesday, for which AccuHunch predicts 37 and rain. On Friday and Saturday, or so they guess, we'll have a few inches of snow.

That will be welcome news for the Iditarod folks; their ceremonial start is on Saturday.

Whatever happens, we can't complain about lack of light, as the days are noticeably longer already. And break-up* is getting closer all the time.

Here's a bit o' humor for you:

Thanks for stopping by, friends, and have a wonderful Sunday.

* All y'all call it "Spring", for some reason.


Chickenmom said...

So true. I want to see a person's eyes - it's a gateway to their soul.
We've had more snow than you this year, Rev. Paul - it's snowing here in Joisey now. Again

Rev. Paul said...

Chickenmom, almost everyone has had more snow than we, this year. I think our winter total is 20.something inches. Should be nearly six feet by now.

Rob said...

Padre, Not only is it you, but I feel its world wide. A wise Dr once told us he can give an x-ray to 11 different Dr, and get 11 different opinions. Such is life. I know we could get into a very long discussion on interpreting just the bible alone.

P.S. Everyone has more snow then both Alaska AND Minnesota...:)

Rev. Paul said...

Rob, I believe it's because no one is interested in anyone else's opinion, anymore. We've become the "look at me, I'm so special, what's your problem?" society. Twitter/Instagram/Facebook and all the other social media are much to blame - but folks were shallow long before the 'net empowered them to share it with the world (or so they fondly hope).

And yes, the lack of snow is sad.

Rob said...

Padre, The only social media I use is Facebook just to see what friends and family are doing, much like a newspaper. My oldest daughter drives me crazy with all the so called friends who post every thing they do. I get so mad.

Ed Bonderenka said...

What the heck are you people talking about?

joated said...

THe wife just went through one of those miscommunication thingies with her embroidery group. Each of the participants heard something completely different and reacted to it. The wife was a mediator listening to both sides and trying--based upon each very different interpretation--to offer advice and calm nerves. It finally got settled when the two met face to face and hashed it out.

More snow here in North-Central PA than we care for. We haven't really had a thaw since early December and the snow/ice just keeps piling up.

Hard to believe it's March already. Even harder to believe Daylight Savings Time will be starting next weekend.

Rev. Paul said...

Ed - the topic is miscommunication ... which I suspect you knew all along, you sly devil, you. :)

joated - I believe the operative phrase there is "met face to face". That usually settles things.

I'd ask you send us all that snow, but it's probably too late, now.

Old NFO said...

Mis-communication is what we ALL do... Intentionally or not. Sigh... The ONLY way to fix it is eyeball to eyeball! :-)

Rev. Paul said...

Exactly right, NFO. There's no substitute, unfortunately.

ProudHillbilly said...

There's a reason our deacon bans certain things from his house and rarely e-mails...He once commented that his daughter's chickens communicated better than most people do on-line.

Rev. Paul said...

PH, he's not wrong. :)