We are social beings with a need to connect and craving to be heard. Communication is our second nature. We are on it all the time, whether through words or otherwise. There are times when communications fail irrespective of our intention behind or effectiveness at it. We might spend a lifetime wondering about a failed communication while things seemed just right. Let’s take a look at possible reasons and track prime factors behind failed communications.
1. We Don't like to listen..?
First, second, third, fourth and hundredth factor of great communication isn’t what you say but how you listen. Think about a time when you really and thoroughly listened to someone in a 2-way communication, when there was no pressure or compulsion involved. A rare incident, right? This indeed is a natural phenomenon because every word said by another is triggering your own opinions and each nonverbal clue is putting you in different mental state, as other person is speaking. Once a strong opinion or mental state is triggered; you are rather listening to it & fine tuning it in your head than lending ears to what other person is saying. A mental state here is the state triggered by how the other person said what she/he said. A dominating or demanding non-verbal could automatically put you in defensive state rather than an accepting state which is needed for effective listening.
2. We fail to look from another point of view, which is very different from our own
We all carry our worlds with us, wherever we go. One’s belief system, values, needs & perspective constitutes his/her inner world. This world, we carry, is a huge obstruction while we are relating to another person. Every similarity here creates an overlap between the worlds and a difference distances them. It is a blunder to voice an altogether different perspective without creating a firm common ground to stand on. This primary requirement creates the necessity to listen and understand another person’s point of view before pitching in your own, so that you see the boundaries of another’s world and begin your side with that part from your world, which overlaps with the other world and eventually expand it, hence expanding the boundaries of both worlds.
3. We advise instead of validating or understanding
When we are short on listening or lack an appreciation for deviating perspectives we tend to advice from where we stand rather than understanding or appreciating other person’s requirements. Many of us like to share which doesn’t mean that we are fishing for different perspectives. We rather want to bring clarity in our own perspective by sharing the experience. An uncalled for advice is to force a perspective when the other person has hardly made sense of his own experience. This would lead to defensive emotions like denial, irritation, confusion or anger rather than really helping the person. Another important intention when we share things is to have a validation for the emotions we feel. It is to know that in the given situation, from where the person stands, the experienced emotions are relevant. Most of the communication is the expectation for clarity and validation rather than need for expansion of perspectives.
4. We take another’s opinion as a judgement about us
What is the reason for us to get defensive when people share their opinions of us, with us? Firstly, the opinions come from their world and might not make as much sense to us as they do to them. Secondly, we might not sense the exact intention behind the opinions and thirdly, the opinion shared tend to be mostly negative which goes across as a blame or criticism to us, automatically putting us in defensive shoes. One tends to have much more to him/her than what is perceived, so blame or criticism is interpreted as reduction of our whole personality to few trivial details, hence, a judgement is passed about what we are. On top, we can take opinions constructively, only from people who understand and respect what we are.
5. We feedback even when others do not need to be fed back
Feedback is something which needs a willing receiver. Feeding back rarely makes any sense when other person hasn’t asked for it or isn’t ready for it however honest and genuine the intentions are. Feedback has its own time and place and one needs to wait for his clue before jumping in and showering feedback on a clueless pray. Though it’s a worthy act to feed the hungry, it will be worthless to force-feed the needless how much ever delicious and rare the food is. See if the other person is ready for what you are saying, when you are saying else say only that what he is ready for.
6. We express impulsively instead of containing till there is clarity & need
There are 2 sorts of communications. One which is triggered by impulses which might not be the way we would behave on a calmer day and the other which is well thought of & well-reasoned alternative. The first kind of communication satisfies the momentary need, however, the second one keeps the long term need satisfied. First one, is a reaction to a trigger and second one is a clear response. No one is free of reactions when taken over by emotions, however, every impulsive communication ought to be followed by reflection to understand the inner turmoil & reaction pattern better hence gaining a clarity & understanding with each experience. It also need to be followed by a well thought out communication between affected parties to gain from the rain rather than letting relation flood away by force of the rain. A better option would be to eventually learn to contain emotions and process them within rather than expressing it on another person.
7. We have little acceptance for diverse perspectives
The most important reason for the failed communication is the level of acceptance. We all walk on a thin rope when it comes to accepting self and others. Just one or two incidents might make us stop believing in ourselves just the way one or two instances of criticism can create a gap between people. We need to know our worth irrespective of situations or other people’s opinion. A few flaws in one’s thought process, impulses or behaviour doesn't make one a flawed person. We need to stop equating ourselves to the way we are perceived and realise that perception is just a small part of ourselves and there is a lot more to us than what has met our own or other’s eyes. We need to stop judging or limiting ourselves based on the story which is yesterdays and expose ourselves to a magician called change, who can broaden what we think we are.
Communication is the bread and butter of evolution. End of the day, only criteria to validate the quality of life is to check if we got any better communicating with self and the other as the days pass...!