The Imperfection of Communication: Part 3
I've tracked your comments to last week’s post with interest. When asked what you thought of, felt, or saw when presented with the word "cat" each of you did exactly what I expected. You saw something different!
In corporate training, communication is one of my favorite topics to teach. Mainly because we spend every moment of the day communicating whether we mean to or not.
I do the cat exercise in my training classes to show people how different our perceptions can be. The different responses amaze participants and serve as a great reminder that, even face-to-face, we need to be clear and specific in our communication. The activity, also, allows people to recognize that misunderstanding each other is part of life. It's not going away.
You might think a simple word like cat would not create a gap in communication but consider the variety of responses:
|I usually see a large cat!|
- Sandy-colored short hair
- Striped cat
- Stripey-faced, mini-tiger cat with a "cat" smile
- Tabby kitten
- Halloween cat
- Algae eyes blinking from underneath the furniture
- 17 pound smokey domestic longhair
- Ginger and white cat
- Allergies--misery, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, (one person ended up in the hospital)
- Egyptian regard for cats
- The devil
- Sneaky and scares my dog
- Cleaning up behind them, not favorably
- Cats that help you type/write
- Catharsis - because this person didn't like cats
Oh and my personal favorite: by day-angelic, by night-chases the German Shepherd
I did have one person who thought I was kidding about the whole thing. It was a tongue-in-cheek kind of post, but I'm serious about the issues of miscommunication and dealing with them.
Another person didn't like cats so felt they weren't qualified to respond with anything. I didn't say you had to like cats to participate, but that was this person's interpretation.
So, there you have it. One three letter word and a multitude of responses, proving that we carry our own baggage into the interpretation window of our mind.
The moral of this little exercise? Try to be clear in your communication, check that your listeners/readers understand your meaning, and accept that people will see things differently than you do!
I will be participating in the Rule of 3 blogfest during the month of October. Each Wednesday, I will post a portion of a story set in the ficitonal town of Renaissance. Please drop by on Wednesdays and enjoy the story through the end of October.