The Meaning of Communication

Meaning of Communication
Have you ever talked to someone they felt insulted without you actually wanting to insult them? Or maybe a friend told you later that you came over as being arrogant? And next you would say:”I didn’t mean to…what I meant was…”. Well, when that happens, our normal reaction is to mark this down as “mis-communication”, yet we don’t really learn from this, because we don’t think there is anything to learn. Well, there is, and something quite substantial as well!

When I started reading books about communication, I would always stumble across different nuggets of truth that put so many things in perspective. Things I could never really explain, yet that made much more sense to me once I “knew”. One of the paradigms of communication is that the meaning of your communication is the outcome you get. It does not matter what you intended, but how the other person understood it! So when you piss someone off without wanting to, it is in fact your fault, and what you now know is how to piss that person off. The great thing is that you can now experiment how to talk to that same person differently.

No one but you is responsible for your communication, and for the states you elicit in the people you talk to. Once you realize that, once you acknowledge the full impact of this, talking to anyone becomes a whole different ball game. Maybe you are a team leader, a manager, a parent, or anyone else having to talk to people and get something from them, and every time you talk to them, you can learn something from their responses to you. You can learn what this person reacts to and how you can use that reaction to gauge the way you speak.

Of course, this is just an idea, and as such you might accept it or not. Yet, if you do decide to take responsibility for your communication, suddenly opportunities for change will open up right in front of you, and the sentence:”But I didn’t mean to…” is banished from your life!


5 thoughts on “The Meaning of Communication

  1. hroswith says:

    Interesting article. Part of my linguistics thesis at university dealt with “aggravating” and “mitigating” marks in communication (not necessarily verbal communication).

    Interesting blog. 🙂 Mind if I add you to my blogroll?

  2. Phantomias says:

    hroswith, it would be an honour to be on your blogroll. thanks!

    P.s. i would really be interested to hear more about your linguistics thesis, it sounds fascinating!

  3. Elizabeth sugod says:

    maa’m it’s quit difficultz!hehehe

  4. Salome Brown says:

    Interesting take on the subject. I am learning to be a better communicator, so I will keep what you said in mind.

  5. Stephen O says:

    I recognise the symptoms as you describe (e.g. outcome different from the intent of the communicator), however sure your solution of taking full responsibility I think is only a part of the solution. One solution missing is the power of feedback between both parties. Communicating is after all a 2-way process where one party delivers the message and the other party receives it. For example I may say to Person 1 “I really don’t understand what you say” and to that person its interpreted as an offensive comment, a Person 2 alternatively may ask me to clarify the same statement. To which my reply could be “I find it difficult to keep up with quick speakers like you as English is my second language, but perhaps if you slowed down a bit for me, it will help me loads”. In other words the feedback loop from Person 2 to me brings about a desirable outcome for both parties instead of the rather negative outcome as per Person 1. In addition culture, background and the listening skills of the people communicating are also important.

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