Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Keep Talking

Communication is hard. It's the most difficult activity in which we humans engage. And while other animals "communicate," humans are the only creatures on the planet to use language. Feel free to use your uniquely human ability to use language and argue that one in the comments below.

When I started teaching, one of the courses on my load was titled "Applied Communications." It was nothing but a "dumbed-down" speech class built around modules published in the late 1980s. I first taught the class in 1999-2000. So much had changed in just over a decade... The modules were oh-so out-of-date.

But this hadn't changed: communication is hard.

I can send what I feel is a very clear message to someone, but that message passes through filters and noise before being received and interpreted. The message, truly, is in the ears (or eyes) of the beholder. Language is infinitely complicated and communicating tainted with all sorts of external and internal "stuff" before decoded and understood. It's frightening, really, to try and make someone understand your message as you want it understood. Sometimes it requires persistence and repetition. Sometimes it requires dogged stubbornness. Sometimes it requires all the patience love can muster to make the message heard.

This I believe: words are not cheap. As a human, I know they are my most complicated tool. I've spent my life trying to understand their nuance, but still fall short sometimes. And while I can't argue against the old adage "actions speak louder than words" I believe in the power of words written or said well to send the right message. Sometimes words are all I have. Sometimes the message doesn't break through the noise and emotional stuff the first time.

This is why I keep talking. This is why I continue to send the message. This is why I won't quit.

I saw Pink Floyd on this tour. Amazing show. Keep talking.


Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Language IS hard. I work in the communication industry and we're the worst offenders.

Aaron Polson said...

Cathy - Just like teachers make the worst students. Trust me. ;)