In this episode of the Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast, we’re going to communicate about how to communicate, and how not to. We’ll start off with definitions and quotations, then the main segment will discuss how and when to to speak your mind, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.Support the show
Before we start, I want to ask you for something yet again. I know that I’m sounding like a broken record, but it’s a strange and shitty time in our history, and a lot of your fellow citizens are really struggling. So I’m going to ask you to try to buy as many products locally as you can. Go with mom and pop stores in your city, province, state, country first. Give them your money for everything you’re buying. And visit restaurants and bars a lot this summer and try to help them get back on their feet. We can all get out of this stupid 2021 that we’re living through, but you need to be aware that we can all help each other, and it starts with wallets. Well, phones and debit cards too, so not always a wallet, but you know what I mean. Also, don’t be a dick.
Today, we're setting the controls of this machine in a new direction. We’re going to look at communication. It’s the key to everything, and most of the world doesn’t know what it is, specifically, or how it works, or how pretty much everything in your life relies on it. But don’t worry, this is not going to be like a two-hour polytechnic class on journalistic ethics, Nikki, it’s more the condensed version. In fact, like we always do, we’ll break it down into three specific bite-sized flavours, so let’s get started.
Firstly, according to the International Encyclopedia of Communication, yes there is such a thing and, no, you don’t really want one, interpersonal communication is “an exchange of information between two or more people and is also an area of research that seeks to understand how humans use verbal and nonverbal cues to accomplish a number of personal and relational goals.” We’re going to look at the goal thing a little more deeply later, I promise we will, Wendy.
For our first quotation, we have Bernard Shaw who was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist who's play titled Pygmalion was first staged in 1913 went on to be remade many times including the 1956 musical My Fair Lady. He wrote a million other plays and stories too, just to be fair. Anyway, he's quoted as saying “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” This is key, because just saying a thing does not bring clarity, or understanding, or riches. Haha, riches, I say that like it’s a thing I know.
Next, let’s look slightly upwards to Sir Isaac Newton, who is described as an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author, but holy cow he was so much more than that. This is why his quote is important. He wrote to Robert Hooke, a sizable scientist in his own right, in February 1676, stating "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This is a man who invented branches of math, still used today, just to help him establish even larger scientific truths based on that math. Even at that intellectual level, he spoke humbly of his achievements and gave credit to others regularly despite the stride he made. And pressing the elevator button for someone else was your achievement for the day? Mine was waving to the letter carrier. We all have a ways to go.
Finally, we have Herbert George Wells, better known as H.G Wells, extremely prolific and forward-looking, writer and prophetic social critic. He wrote The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds in less time than it takes you to read even one of those books, and went on to write literally hundreds of other books, plays, short stories, satires, social commentary and more. His contribution to the communications quotation-fest is going to require some flexible thinking on your part. He said :"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." Why are we putting this in here? Later, we're going to talk about how listening is the most important part of interpersonal communications. I'm talking about listening to truly understand, not to edit the conversation to something that you were hoping to be part of. It's a tough angle, but maybe I'm being obtuse.
So, here’s where we start: we’re all shit at communicating. Yet, sadly, we all believe we’re always being completely understood. So how can these two opposites happen so frequently? Well, the very basic issues we’re going to deal with today are why we miscommunicate in the first place, and there are a few reasons. You could be saying something that you shouldn’t, or maybe saying something when we should, but we’re not doing it correctly. The final, perhaps most important thing is, you do not always have to be speaking (or writing) for communications to work. It sounds counter-intuitive, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
The first thing is figure out why you don’t know the things coming out of your mouth are stupid. It’s complicated, because in your head, you know what you need to communicate, and you know your own perception of the situation, but after you’ve had your moment to shine, you realize that everything you tried to say was wrong. Worse, the two parts of communications – sending and receiving – aren’t working together. This could be for two reasons: either because of problems with what you’re saying or how you saying it, or the receiver didn’t understand, either due to interference, resistance to the message or simply not understanding the message. If you’re the one talking, it’s on you to get this right.
In fact, Jordan Smith, in his seminal book Communication at Work, states "The responsibility of the sender of a message is to make it as easy as possible to understand the intended meaning. If work must be done to get your point across, it is on you as the sender to do all you can to make that happen.” So, you really need to organize your thoughts, and if they’re anything like your spice rack organization or your fucking sock drawer, then you know you have a long way to go. But hey, baby steps, and I’ll give some tools later.
I also want to emphasize something here that I talked about earlier. You don’t always have to be talking. There are times when you should just close your lasagna hole and stay silent. One of those time, according to Erin Falconer, editor in chief and co-owner of Pick the Brain website, blog and informative podcast, says: "Sometimes, people speak just because there’s silence. This induces mindless chatter. If you’re talking solely because it’s quiet, you really have nothing to say." she ends this with these words "Speak deliberately; this is the key to attaining honesty and focus." This is the best advice, oh and stay away from Florida too, but this advice for sure.
So in this super-short, highly abridged coaching scenario, we have to ask if there’s any hope at all that we’ll ever communicate properly. Even though you could study communications for 20 years and not get to the definitive answer, let me give you a few pointers that may help you. Unfortunately, this is all stuff that you have to work at, all the time, and we know how that’s going for you when you started working on your cardio by purchasing a Peloton machine that, sadly, now has spiders living on it. But you did manage to build yourself, from scratch, a martini-glass cup holder for it, so there is a glimmer of hope for you.
Now, let’s talk about what you should think about doing to help your communication. The first step is to ask if you’re really being honest with yourself and others. Trying to communicate with an agenda that you’re not articulating from the outset is a little underhanded, and you’ll quickly lose the trust of those around you. In 2019, award-winning Harvard professor, author and researcher Francesco Gino co-authored a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology titled "The Interpersonal Costs of Dishonesty: How Dishonest Behaviour Reduces Individuals’ Ability to Read Others’ Emotions". The following conclusion, among many, was included: "In this paper, we proposed and demonstrated that dishonest behaviour may have interpersonal costs, not just because it could harm trust and one’s reputation if others become aware of it, but also because it impairs individuals’ general ability to accurately detect others’ emotions." So when people despise you for telling them that the 1970s Pinto you sold them was completely safe, you’ll never realize they know you lied and resent you for it. It seems like honesty is the best policy. That and you broke it you bought bought it, but really, honesty is still at the top.
And, finally, of course, you don’t always have to be talking. Don’t worry about whether or not you have a good point, and know something that another person doesn’t. Remember Episode 11 when I talked about being right versus being happy? Well, this is similar to that. Don’t always try to look smart, or having something clever to say, or attempt to win arguments or try to convince others that you think the Vikings will win the Super Bowl this year, Steve. Hint, they fucking won’t. You need to know that ignoring your chance to be silent and to actively listen is not the way to happy relationships. In a LifeHack article titled "5 Reasons Why Silence is a Source of Great Strength", adjunct college teacher, author and blogger Tomi Rues says "Sometimes when we communicate we say too much. We over-explain. If a question is met with silence, there is often an answer in that silence." Fits in with Abraham Lincoln saying "The more a man speaks, the less he is understood." So, listen to me when I say that, sometimes, just shut the fuck up and listen – listen to understand. I think we’re done here. Go Vikings
Okay, so that's it for this episode. As always, I'll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – Yes you heard me, w-w-w. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there's a link on my website. And please request some stickers – they’re fun, free, and they don’t cause anxiety, I think. Also, if you like what you've heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that.
John Ford once said "You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart." But centuries earlier Samuel Johnson said "Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter." That still works as well except that Davy Crockett said "My tongue speak what my heart thinks." So, I guess, trust your heart, unless it's bitter, and then only think with your tongue if you trust it, or something, I don't know, whatever...
Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...