We live in a written word world.
That wasn’t always the case; not long ago the bulk of communication was what we said to each other not what we wrote to each other.
At the very least we called each other and could hear our words intent based on the tone of what we said.
Better still, we met face-to-face allowing us to not only hear but to also see what those attempting to communicate with us wanted us to know.
Too often now it’s what we see on a page, often an electronic “page” on our phones varying in size and resolution.
It this a problem?
Yes, this is a problem.
We’ve lost context that only comes from nonverbal and verbal cues, which only became apparent observing what was once called “body language“.
Watching someone speak while hearing their words makes all the difference in the world as Frasier and his dad often showed us.
Take the headline of this post.
Communication that’s just great!
Really or not?
By now you probably know but think back to when you first read only the headline.
Did I really think things are just great or did I think things are just great?
I have no choice but to type this but would prefer seeing us seeing each other as we attempt to sort out its meaning.
So much is lost when all you have to understand the other person is their written word.
Perceived anger is missed or assumed greater than intended.
Hurt, approval, disapproval, happiness, sadness, humor, all likely missed without context that only comes from seeing the other person.
We’ll never go back to a time where personal communication regularly involved people looking at and talking with each other.
However, we can do much to make a bad situation less bad by remembering these three simple communication rules.
Communication: Three Rules!
- Never criticize someone or their work solely in writing; if you can’t see them to say what you have to say, wait until you can.
- Pay as much attention to how someone speaks, looks, and acts as you do hearing their words.There will be as much communication in that as in the words alone, probably more.
- Ask for clarification of anything you do not understand. Miscommunication is more often the result of not understanding rather than not hearing.
An admittedly overly simplified prescription for how you can improve your communication skills, one that would be significantly improved had we had this conversation in person.