Communication and the Art of Listening
Although we usually think of communication as speaking, a major part of it is listening. And listening is not always as easy as it sounds. Meaning is derived not only from words but from voice inflection or tone, context, and facial expressions. When some or all are missing, misunderstanding can occur. In phone conversations there are no facial expressions to read. In Email/Text - there are no facial expressions or voice inflections or tone. Emojis can help, but they too can be misunderstood.
Another problem with listening is we sometimes make false assumptions, based on past experience of preconceived notions. What it sounds like to you may not be what is intended. It is always a good idea to clarify before jumping to conclusions. “Why did you do that,” is not necessarily a criticism. What sounds like confrontation may be merely confusion or curiosity.
Quotations can also be misleading - clues can be altered or omitted. Jokes are sometimes quoted as serious remarks. Meanings are altered when the context is removed. When quoting ask not only was it truly said, but also is the rendering true to the intended meaning. Otherwise, it is as false as a lie. When hearing another quoted we should ask, “Is this consistent with what I already know about this person?” And, if it reflects badly on them, ask, “Is it possible this could have a different meaning than presented here?”
When Speaking it is also good to clarify. Providing more information can prevent misunderstanding. Especially when talking to children, what is obvious to you may not be to them. And Always Think Before You Speak - You can apologize, but you cannot take back words once spoken.