Friday, November 20, 2009


This blog was NOT written By Me, a friend on twitter sent me the link and it was so awesome I had to share the article:)
-By Tobin Crenshaw

It has been said that a tape recorder will teach you more about communication than reading half a dozen books. Some times we don’t say what we think we say, nor do we always sound like we think we sound. Hearing it live and in color can make a big difference. That is because communication can be easy, and it can be very complicated.

When I was taking a graduate course on speaking, we talked about several parts of speech that are extremely relevant to how we communicate to one another in our deepest relationships.

First, there is what you meant to say. You had an idea to convey to your partner, but sometimes mistranslation happens, both in our mind and in theirs.

This brings us to part two, which is what we actually said. Perhaps what we said and what we meant to say are very different based upon our tone of voice or body language, or the words we chose to use. Semantics are no small thing. For instance, calling your buddy “stupid” may elicit a laugh and a grin at work. Using that word with your spouse who may have a severe aversion to criticism can leave you in a tough spot or sleeping on the couch.

This leads us to the third part of communication, which is what your lover hears. Again, mistranslation occurs very often. I tell couples that I counsel that communicating with your lover by text messaging and email is a bad idea. Using sound bites when you are trying to communicate with your significant other is a slippery slope. People read something that gets filtered through their own inner voice which they hear as they read words. We often read into words something that isn’t there.

This take us to part four, which is what your lover thinks they heard you say. When it comes to interpretation, we can be hit or miss. Step five is what your lover then says that you said, and step six is where it becomes even more complicated because it comes full circle with your interpretation of what you think your lover said you said. Shew! If you are confused that is ok, just understand that communication has several dynamics.

With communication being so complicated, is it any wonder people often misinterpret intentions? In fact, one of the most damaging things you can do in a relationship is to believe you know someone else’s motives. This is a dangerous and damaging game to play.

So how do make something that can be so complicated work? The good news is that it is actually very simple, when you just keep a couple of things in mind. The first thing to remember is that we can listen five times as fast as we can speak. As Norman Wright relates, “If someone speaks at 120 words per minute and you can listen at 600 words per minute, what are you doing with the extra time?” For instance, when your lover is talking are you off on a bunny trail in your mind, or are you waiting for your chance to speak or wishing they were done talking so you could interject a thought? If so, you are not really listening, which is the key to good communication.

Listening means that when another person is talking you are not thinking about what you are going to say when your partner is silent. This is incredibly disrespectful and hurtful to your partner. Truly listening is being present in the moment, taking in everything they are saying. It takes focused effort that lets the other person know they are important to you. Listening is taking in what is being stated without making a judgment, i.e. you are not saying what you think they said but rather just receiving it.

In fact, once you posit motives you can drain the life and energy out of the relationship. Think about it, haven’t we all had times when we exaggerated another person’s words? They make an innocent comment and we respond, “Ohhh, I see, you think I’m stupid.” In fact, couples know well how to play this game on one another, using words as weapons such as, “You are just like your mother.” How much better to choose our words wisely, and fully listen by being present as our lover speaks.

So the next time you are having a conversation, notice what you are doing as the other person speaks. Actively pay attention to how easily your thoughts drift away, or how quick you are to take over the conversation as soon as the other person takes a breath.

Try this instead, look into their eyes when they are talking (unless you are driving!), give feedback beyond grunts such as, “I understand what you mean,” and don’t use that extra time in your mind to drift away but rather stay engaged in the moment. If you do this, you won’t have to worry about trying to figure what your partner said about what you said, you will be able to relax and just talk!

Tobin Crenshaw

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