Our culture villianizes teenagers for narcissistic incoherence in communicating but I witness it in many adults. Why is there such difficulty when speaking, in journalism, on-line? Here’s a few communication muddles:
- Use of pronouns. My quasi-spouse loves them: *”They had what I needed and I picked it up.” As if I know which ‘they’ he’s referring to and what ‘it’ he bought. Or, “He didn’t like what I’d said.” Who?? What had he said? At least I knew who the ‘I’ was. The Quasi starts in the middle of a story—one that he’s having alone in his head.
- Stonewalling is a refusal to communicate fully (or at all)—think of the stereotypical teen or husband grunting one word “answers” to questions. More men than women regularly employ this non-action in stalled relationships. No resolution can be had using this “technique” as no one knows what the stonewaller wants because…they won’t tell you. Lots of rationalization is given for their disinclination, but the bottom line: they eliminate any possibility of getting what they need.
- Evasiveness. Pretty self-explanatory but here’s a subtle example: “Has everyone paid you what they should have?” “I have been fairly compensated by all.” The answer suggests that everyone did pay but it’s equally possible that “fairly compensated” is an ambiguous cover. A direct “yes” would have left no ambiguity. Why obfuscate?
- Illegible writing and SIRI-garbled texts go together. Sloppy writing, sloppy mumbling to SIRI. If you’re attempting to leave a note for someone or send a text, read over what you’ve written or dictated. Is it legible to you? Does the text make sense? The object is transmission, is it not?
- Passive-aggressive is more complex [see: how to deal with pass-agg aggro] but suffice to say that this one often involves all of the above and more, like: agreeing to one thing then doing another, being sullen, surly, defensive. It’s awfully thorny finding accountability with these slippery people.
What would help?
- Start communications with details, with nouns. Set the story up whether you’re talking or writing. If you don’t—unless you’re an actual child—you’re just revealing your solipsism. Most of us like a good story but more often than not we’re subjected to boring ones.
- Speak up and ask for what you want regardless of your perceived hopelessness in being heard. It’s logical; it’s effective—whichever way it goes. Otherwise you’re apparently choosing to be a martyr.
- Give a clear” yes” or “no” preamble in answers, especially if you don’t like to “process” much. There’s little sense in being vague. Expound if you wish but without defensiveness (smells of martyr, too).
- Don’t blame SIRI for getting your dictation wrong. “She’s” not god.
- Write so legibly that a beginning reader can interpret it.
- Most importantly, communication isn’t just about you. Paint your ideas, stories, dreams, fears, loves with all the palette colors so another can almost see them as you do. Others may not agree but they just might understand.
- Lastly, don’t be passive-aggressive. Sigh.
*actual true conversation starting points