Recently watched something from CGP Grey on YouTube again that really clicked in my head and just wanted to note it down on my blog in case I forget about it.
If there is anything I’ve learned from thousands of spoken words, it’s that human communication is hard. Way harder than people think. Precisely because people think it’s easy. You just say the words and the other person hear them and bam! Understanding! Alas, no. Words are fuzzy things and you don’t realize how poorly you string them together until you are forced to listen to yourself saying those words. And even if you’re happy with your string of words, you just don’t know how those fuzzy patterns of sound will pattern match in someone else’s brain. Human communication is a dance, and a dance requires partners. We all create content and I think we should all keep that in mind and be much more willing to work with the intended intention of our interlocutors.CGP Grey
This really clicked in my head because there are so many occasions where I felt that I wasn’t communicating the thoughts in my head across effectively and I search high and low for the right combination of words that I hope would make sense to the others, often following up with “did that make sense to you?”.
But this also made me realize the many other occasions where I thought that I had explained something that seemed obvious to me and simply assumed that the other party understood exactly what I meant.
It also made me aware that many disagreements where the other party said something I found offensive and they said, “that’s not what I meant!”, and I retorted with, “but that’s what you said”; is a counterproductive response which doesn’t help the situation. Being aware of this made me think that I should’ve held my feelings and judgment at the moment and clarify with, “well, what do you mean then?”, and give the benefit of the doubt that the other party simply chose the wrong string of words to express their intention. Alas, it’s not that simple all the time because humans are complicated and will often obfuscate their intentions for various reasons; but simply being aware of this will at least help me navigate the murky waters of communication.