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#Communication. It's Only Words

Image courtesy of nashontechnology.blogspot.com

 

“From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Have you ever stopped to wonder why words cause so many difficulties? After all they’re only words, the means by which we convey our thoughts and feelings. Yet so many times, what is a simple and forgettable word to one person, can be a veritable insult to another. Is it any wonder that there are so many hurt feelings and arguments over what we mean by the words we say to each other?

Many are the words uttered in anger, or whilst feeling under pressure or stress. Do these words mean the same thing if they were said whilst calm and unpressured? I rather doubt it. At least, that has been my observation.

Computers and computer programs, have the singular honour of creating the most intense feelings of frustration for many people, even over minor matters. They are such contrary machines, aren’t they? Some days, no matter how hard you try, or follow the same steps you followed the day before, the wretched program refuses to behave as it should. You’re blood pressure rises and you can feel the irritation begin to mount.

In retrospect, it is at this point that the rest of the household, or office, should embark for points north, south, east of west. Anywhere, in fact, to avoid the likely wrath to come. But no, everyone remains and the ensuing eruption of heightened emotion spills over and someone ends up feeling hurt or misunderstood.

#Communication - It's Only Words

Image courtesy of sherwoodfleming.com

“Using words to talk of words is like using a pencil to draw a picture of itself, on itself. Impossible. Confusing. Frustrating … but there are other ways to understanding.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

The irony is, the person struggling with the computer, or any appliance which is being contrary, should simple mutter under their breath, except….. Someone is sure to ‘demand’ that they repeat what they have just said. I can almost guarantee that the word “Stupid” will form part of the epithet. Guaranteed!   What’s even more certain, is that the person listening is going to hear that they are being called stupid. It may even sound as though that was the intention. Yet I am positive that the intention is that the computer, program, appliance, even the operator of the machine is really saying they are stupid for not getting it to work correctly. Perhaps if the person offering assistance has already pushed their help on the struggling and irate digitally challenged person, then they may mean they feel, momentarily that they are stupid for not being able to offer the solution.

However, I’m sure if you were able to ask that person what they meant, they would not have been accusing or abusing the other person of being stupid. Now we have a recipe for an even more bitter and disastrous interchange to occur. The mountain of misunderstanding rises moment by moment.

#Communication - It's Only Words
Image courtesy of twiki.org          No wonder my head hurts at times.

Now we have a struggling computer person, who is definitely not nerdy, feeling even more stupid themselves, plus the person offering to help, when they should have left well enough alone, feeling hurt and offended, because they feel they’ve been abused and called stupid. What a disastrous state of affairs. Why? Because of words. Words should be used to enlighten, to assist, to love and cherish, foster loving feelings and calm hurt ones, not to abuse and enrage. A classic case of miscommunication.

So where now? Somehow, through this veritable minefield of the English language, two people have to tread warily, and hope they can untangle this knotted ball of wool. I had a ball of wool recently, so knotted up that it took two hours to untangle it… I wasn’t sure I had the patience but I did succeed in the end. I know for a fact that I cursed that wool roundly and often – without it taking offense. Luckily for me!

#Communication - It's Only Words

Image courtesy of webdesignledger.com

“I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.”
Jane Wagner, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Human emotions are not as easy as a ball of wool. You can’t hurt the feelings of a ball of wool. You may chop it into pieces if it is really annoying and tangled, but it isn’t going to be hurt or upset. Yet here we have two people who have to walk a tightrope and hope they reach an understanding. Why is the English language so fraught with traps? What is meant by one is not meant by another and this misunderstanding of the use of the same word can cause irreparable damage. Someone, at some time, definitely did not like people conversing.

So, I’m about to try to walk the minefield of knotted logic and understanding and hope I can get my point of view across and understand theirs, so that harmony can flower in the home once more. What puzzles me the most, is that we are speaking the same language. It isn’t as though we are talking different languages and it is an interpretation problem. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps that is the missing key.

English has been added to over the centuries, as the various conquerors have added their offerings to the base language and idioms. In retrospect, it’s not surprising there are so many misunderstandings. Perhaps I should go back to school and study English again, although I fear everyone may need to so we can all be on the same wavelength.

#Communication - It's Only Words
Image courtesy of http://www.iusb.edu    Build the base for communication.

“Oh what a wicked web we weave”. My aching head is going to bed. Good intentions will succeed in the end – survival depends on it.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Nelson Mandela

Very wise words.

 

Blessings, Susan.♥

© Susan Jamieson. August 2014

 

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