What differentiates humans from other animals is the way they process their thoughts. Humans have the distinctive ability of learning, combining new information and knowledge in order to gain new understanding. We also have the ability to apply the same rule or solution of one problem to a totally different problem or situation effectively. Now, that must be really special having all these abilities and being able to analyze things and situations. But besides all these “great” characteristics we fail miserably in a simple one, where most of other species have us beat: COMMUNICATION.
Something so simple to do but so difficult to get done. It is, in my mind without a doubt, one of the the biggest (if not the biggest) problems with humans living in our society. We talk but we don’t communicate. We hear but we don’t listen. The most simple way of communication is between two people, only two; and yet we are able to still fail miserably. Imagine then when it involves a meeting with a group of five, six or above…… total debacle.
When having a meaningful conversation with someone, being able to understand that person and being able to allow yourself to be understood requires communication. When dealing with friends, co-workers, family, loved ones, guests, clients, suppliers, or anybody; talking for any period of time will mean nothing more than words if there is no understanding and accountability for what is said or discussed.
Why is it so difficult? I think they are many reasons. When you are having a conversation and you start to hear about things you don’t agree with or you don’t like, the communication gap starts growing. When you are criticized or misunderstood you just don’t listen anymore. If you believe you are right when someone is trying to correct you simply zone out. When your mind tells you something, your heart tells you something else and society says yet another thing; and you are unable to express those things effectively with words…. you are miscommunicating. Lack or excess of empathy, disinterest, avoidance, fear, irresponsibility, inability to accept your decisions, guilt, peer pressure, other people’s opinions, stubbornness, ignorance, dishonesty, selfishness……. all these are reasons that affect proper understanding between each other.
The cognitive characteristics of humans and the idea that we should assume, perceive, judge and reason exactly what the other person has in mind is also part of the demise of communication. How many times have you heard: “he/she should have known that”, “who else would have said it if not her/him”, “he/she should understand my behavior”, “why doesn’t he/she get it?”, “he/she will figure it out sometime”, “he/she won’t understand, so I might as well not say anything”, “if I act this way maybe he/she/they will figure it out”. I could go on and on.
Putting our personal interests above everything else, living our lives trying to please or accommodate everybody else views of us (distancing or disregarding our own) and the “me, me, me me” mentality puts a huge dent in all kind of relationships and the way we understand each other. It’s time to change that. It’s time to make an effort to communicate effectively. We, humans, are too smart to allow miscommunication to be the cause of so many conflicts in our lives and society. If there is something you need to converse with someone just do it (without being rude); don’t assume or expect, just sit (or stand) and talk. Tha’ts what civilized people do.
I mean, isn’t that part of what differentiates us from other animals?