Submitted by Don Doman.
In communication so much is said and so much of it is taken for granted . . . or not. I’ve always liked the story of the general who sent an order to his troop, “Have your company moved to the left wing” with no punctuation. The response came back, “No, they haven’t.”I’ve always liked the story of the general who sent an order to his troop, “Have your company moved to the left wing” with no punctuation. The response came back, “No, they haven’t.”
“The biggest single problem with communication, is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
There have never been so many ways to communicate as there are in today’s world. And, yet . . . communication is still a problem with misspellings in tweets from the White House to emails sent to the wrong people, fake news, and much more.Communication is still a problem with misspellings in tweets from the White House to emails sent to the wrong people, fake news, and much more.
Here are four primary concerns of communication: names, clarity, grammar, and delivery.
Names are so important. They give you a connection. When I first joined Rotary in 1990 I was given a small handbook with by-laws and history of the club as well as photos and details of each member. The Rotary Club of Tacoma #8 at that time had over four hundred members. Before attending each meeting, I would page through the images and names. By the time I was president, I knew most of our members AND how to pronounce their names. In any organization if you don’t know who the people are what they do, then you’re at a disadvantage. Knowing the people is a major step in communicating.
My best friend in high school was Rich Christenson. He told me once, “If you say something to me and my expression doesn’t change . . . tell me, again.” I look for those clues when I talk to people face-to-face. Being clear when using digital communications is doubly important. If people aren’t sure what you said, then the problem is generally you. Not them.
Grammar leaves much to be desired most of the time. Punctuation is a large part of grammar. Like the battlefield cavalry message, with proper grammar and punctuation, you lessen the possibilities of bad communication.
Delivery of communication is a lot easier done in person. Like my friend Rich, in person you have a chance to see right away if your message is understood by facial expression. The problem with text messages is that you can’t hear the tone or see the expression of the person who wrote it. I loved the idea of the comedian who suggested we use a new font. That way you could look at someone’s email and say, “Oh, I get it. They are using ‘Sarcastica’ as the font.” Perhaps, we need a number of new fonts: Sorry, Happy, Just Kidding, Congrats, and Good Luck.With important communication, be brief, be exact, and be careful.
Mostly in communication you want to get to the point. French philosopher Francois Fenelon said, “The more you say, the less people remember.” With important communication, be brief, be exact, and be careful.
Nancy Atwood says
I love your piece on communication. I am an interpreter & am especially aware of miscommunications, even when I’m not working. I wish we had communication skills taught in our schools–it’s that important. Thank you–please write more on this topic.
Don Doman says
Thank you for reading and for communicating.
I appreciate your kind words and your love for communication. I was board chair for two years at TACID and so I usually take extra care when communicating.
I’ll put “another communication article” on my to do list just for you.
Here’s a good communication joke for you, although bad communication is never funny . . .
“Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”
Thanks again, for reading and writing to me.
Nancy Atwood says
I hope you don’t mind my replying to your reply.
I know what you mean because I have been involved with the disabled community a lot, partly through my work as an ASL interpreter. I also taught D/HH students to write English–a passion with me.
I enjoyed the joke & actually, it was funny. Here’s something for you (not a joke, just something to ponder): He didn’t marry her because she was rich. Question: Did he marry her or not?
I’ll be checking The Suburban Times more regularly now so I don’t miss another communication article–thank you!