Engaging exchanges - Creation.begins

Engaging exchanges

Blurring the lines
5 November 2022
New Month Resolutions
1 February 2024
Blurring the lines
5 November 2022
New Month Resolutions
1 February 2024

Engaging exchanges5 min read

I have a bone to pick with the following image on this fine morning:

text on dark skyline reading "I used to think communication was the key until I realised comprehension is. You can communicate all you want with someone but if they don't understand you, it's silent chaos."

[not quite a complete piece of advice]

Communication is not just talking. Communication is always a two way street. Learning to better articulate and describe is as important as learning to listen and comprehend, as well as being aware of how effectively your message is being received and adapting accordingly. Being both a good speaker and a good listener is part of effective communication.

A good communicator adjusts to their audience. If the audience doesn’t comprehend, adjust the vocabulary, adjust the tone, adjust the level of complexity, adjust how you describe your message in a better way for your audience to understand. And if your audience is still not getting you, maybe they aren’t the audience you desire, or maybe you need to figure out how to portray your message clearer. Likewise when you are listening to another, do what you can to intelligently interpret what is being said using context, situation, and your knowledge of the speaker’s mannerisms and quirks to form a fuller understanding of their message.

Communication is an active practice. During the listening part, one has to be present and clear-minded enough to absorb what’s being said without layering internal thoughts on somebody else’s story (or, at least, as minimal layering as is possible). Actively hearing what is being said means one can contribute more meaningfully to the conversation. During the talking part, one has to be present, clear-minded enough and articulate enough to provide a coherent presentation of one’s internal thoughts. All of this takes practice.

Take responsibility for your communication, both what you say and how you listen. Understand that everyone is on their own level. We don’t learn how to properly communicate in normal society. Unfortunately, like finances, relationships, and a host of other life skills that aren’t available at school level, it’s up to us to learn proper communication skills in adulthood, and not depend on everyone else having as good skills. The assumption is that everyone is a poor communicator. Just pay attention to how often you get frustrated because others don’t understand you to accept that truth.

Everyone is on their own level

We all learn how to communicate through experience and observation. Often the people who are aggressive talkers aren’t always clear in what they say, and to top it off they’re also bad at listening and never work at bettering their communication skills. This leads to quieter, often more neurodivergent individuals, being forced to figure out what people actually mean behind their sarcastic and obtuse, non-direct communication. That said, everyone is different and we all have different levels of spoons. We aren’t always able to force ourselves to pay attention. We don’t always have the brain capacity to speak well or listen well. Not every moment is perfect for effective communication.

We learn to read our audience as a speaker, and get better at understanding the nuances of speakers as a listener. Figuring out how to engage an audience that’s losing interest. Figuring out how to coax information out of a speaker who isn’t getting their message across. Communication is about engagement. Is the material engaging? Is it being presented in an interesting and fun way?

People love engaging in general and the more fun and interesting a topic or presentation or presenter is, the more engaged everyone will be. Communication must take into account who we’re talking to and how best to engage with them and that comes with understanding people which starts to dip into psychology but that understanding is also very vital to communication. People in general are very divergent in their experience of life, their outlook, and the way they process the world. Having a better understanding of the diversity of human awareness and mental processing leads to figuring out better ways to express and comprehend someone else’s expressions.

This doesn’t mean you will understand everyone or everything. Sometimes it’s important to ask appropriate questions to gain a better grasp of the discussion before jumping to conclusions based on what you think someone has said. Being a better communicator is about understanding oneself and developing as better an understanding as possible of intended audiences so as to have more effective communication. The more one takes account of divergence the wider one’s audience and ability to comprehend a wider (more diverse) range of speakers.

Spectacles and a small key lying on an empty, open, unlined notebook. Mug of coffee and cloth lie next to the notebook.

photo by Debby Hudson

Communication is key

There are so many elements involved in the process of communication, and all of them are important. Different people comprehend ideas differently based on their level of intellect, maturity, life experience, and educational experience. Different people express ideas differently based on their intellect, maturity, life experience, and education experience. It comes down to taking ownership of your capabilities and improving on them as needed. And it is an ongoing levelling up. Learn the basics, take speaking and listening courses, and the more you communicate the more you’ll progressively improve as you experience both being misunderstood and misunderstanding.

And we get to decide for ourselves how we want to communicate and with whom. We get to decide for ourselves how effectively we want to communicate. You don’t need to be able to comprehend nor express ideas beyond your interest or expertise, but you do need to level up if you’re not getting your message through to nor understanding the people you want to engage with.

It’s not difficult to be a better communicator. Being a better listener just means being able to hear the other without drifting or unnecessarily layering your own opinions. Being a better expresser just means an improved vocabulary and sharing ideas and opinions in a clear, concise manner. The difficult part is the regular practice, figuring out different ways of sharing an idea, reading more intellectually challenging material, and consistently analysing how you can communicate better on an ongoing never-ending basis.

Be inspired to be yourself

The world is a playground, laden with opportunities to experience pretty much whatever we want to experience.

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