September 23, 2008

com•mu•ni•ca•tion

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines communication as; 1) A verbal or written message. 2) A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior. 3) A technique for expressing ideas effectively.

Excellent, but do we practice it?

I’ve been in the media for a long time. It’s a cliche in media to say that we are in the communications business but do a pour job communicating with each other. Frankly, this is a human thing not an industry thing. I’ve been both victim and the guilty party when it comes to miscommunication. Haven’t we all? Sift back through your memory and pick out an email that you sent where the intent was misunderstood.

Merriam-Webster defines miscommunication as; failure to communicate clearly. They define clearly as; unencumbered by debts or charges.

Are we too busy to properly communicate with each other? Do we use busy as a crutch?

These theories work wonderfully without people. The problem actually starts with ourselves.

Where we get in to trouble is when we fail to make a contract with those around us – including those we don’t know. This is the source of road rage. We are late for a meeting and that idiot that cut us off on the road and flew through the amber light ruined our plan to do the same. It’s not his fault we’re running late. He slept in too.

I received an email the other day from someone who didn't think I was returning their notes in the right tone. Oh brother. Instead of sending back a quick chirp about their attitude and misunderstanding which stemmed from miscommunication that occurred before they misread my communication from earlier, I picked up the phone. The more layers between us and our intention the closer we get to trouble.

So in theory, it’s best to be clear with any verbal or written messages with other individuals through a common system of signs, symbols and behavior unencumbered by debts or charges.

Perhaps we should start by abolishing email, traffic, money and egos. That should fix it.

km

 
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