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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]
I hate language.

Only that's not really right. I love language. I hate communication.

However, it's a prerequisite for talking to people, and I for all that I'm a misanthrope on large scales, on a one-on-one basis I really mostly like people.

See, everyone speaks their own language, really. (Or, at least, I've never met anyone who speaks my language. I assume this impedance mismatch is common enough, given the amount of miscommunication in the world and the fact that there are excellent books out there on the subject.) If I want to talk to someone, I have to figure out their language and then figure out how to say what I want so that they are most likely to hear what I mean. While I don't think of this as dishonesty (because I'm just trying to get my honest point across) it does mean that there are times where I have to say things that are not at all what I mean when I hear them, but it's clear that what I meant made it across the impedance gap.

With some people (like my spouses) we have an agreement to assume that most difficulties might be communication issues and try to deal with them first and foremost by reframing, which helps. But there's still the effort of translation any time I try to communicate.

And, of course, I need to do the reverse translation on the way in. That part is easier, honestly, because it's passive rather than active, but it's still effort.

Deborah Tannen has some great books on the subject. One of the things she points out, with examples, is that people make value judgments based on communication patterns. A common pattern is 'pause length', for example. Some people are most comfortable with long pauses between thoughts, and some people want very short pauses, and some people are only comfortable with actual overlap of talking. If you put a long pause person and a short pause person together, the long pause person will feel constantly interrupted, because the short pause person isn't giving them long enough and is 'butting in', and the short pause person will feel like the long pause person is uninterested in talking to them, because they keep going quiet. Both people are likely to come away from the exchange thinking the other person is rude or uninterested or what have you, when really the only difference is communication style.

If you can be aware of these things, and figure out what your conversation partner is most comfortable with, and then adjust your own habits to match, communication will go a lot smoother and they'll be more likely to judge you for you and the way you really think rather than some perceived rudeness or difference that's not really there.

I regularly tailor my communication for my audience, so that people will hear what I mean, as best I can. It's harder when you're talking to multiple people, but it's doable. It's both easier and harder in text; you lose the nonverbal cues, but careful word choice and such can do wonders.

But it's an awful lot of work. Sometimes I wish I could just say what I mean in the way I would want to hear it and have people actually understand me. I know that's wishful thinking, but sometimes the effort of being even a halfway decent communicator is so tiring.

I'm not going to stop wanting to interact with people anytime soon. Nor are they likely to start speaking my language.

Just because it's unrealistic doesn't mean I don't wish for it, though.

Current Mood: sadsad

I approve this message too, and I approve Torq's message, and I hope that someday our plan to kill with our minds will come to fruition.