Why words are such a poor form of communication...
Posted on 7th June 2023 at 07:03
And, yes, we appreciate the irony of using words to make this statement in the first place! Let alone us living in an era of hyper connectivity and near instantaneous communication, which was meant to raise communication to a whole new level. While it has certainly changed the way we communicate, in many instances this hasn’t been for the better. Just look at social media if you’re in any doubt...
Not only has it fostered the belief that “more is better”, it encourages instant “knee jerk” reactions, neither of which bode well for good communication. We’ve talked about the pitfalls of our obsession with all things communication before and the post can be found here.
However, this isn’t quite what we wanted to talk about today. Instead, it’s the inherent clumsiness – for want of a better description – of any word based form of communication. If you’re wondering what on earth we’re going on about (!) then you’ve just put your finger on the problem without realising it.
Quite simply, words are a very poor substitute for whatever it is we’re trying to communicate. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re written or spoken. Trying to distil anything, particularly an experience – in all its complexity – into words is bound to fail. The physical aspects coming from our five senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch. The emotional aspects coming from our own particular preferences, history and memories. Not forgetting all the non verbal forms of communication, it’s so easy to overlook. Intuition, gut feeling and many other equally mysterious and unexplainable forms of communication. Well, to modern science at least (!).
However, that’s just the start. What about the words themselves? However skilled the communicator, words simply don’t describe the nuances of whatever it is we’re talking about. They’re just not specific enough. Put another way, they’re like trying to use a blunt tool to carry out a very delicate operation.
Which neatly leads us on to each person having their our particular understanding of what a particular word means.
And, often, it’s very different to the one being used by the other person; let alone that found in a dictionary. We’ve looked at a few of the words we like to use before in this blog. Ones that sound – and look – positive but are anything but. Hope, want, need, believe. You can find the post here.
So, where are we going with this?
Well, really, it’s just about giving a different perspective on something we never stop to think about. A “pattern interrupt.” Giving you pause for thought. Highlighting that communication is about much more than words, whatever form they may take.
The good news is there’s a much easier – and more accurate – way to describe an experience. One that the other person can relate to much more easily. Not in terms of our five senses, but in something much closer to home. How it feels to you personally.
For the simple reason that feelings came long before language. They instantly connect us to our deeper selves and to others. Yes, you may want to follow them up with some “five sense” impressions of whatever it was, but feelings will provide a much more meaningful form of communication, more quickly. Just try it and see, you may be very surprised by the results!
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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