Communication is an art, not easily mastered. No two people are molded the same. We all come from different background, armed with different experience, share different value and beliefs and perceive the world differently. Often, we think like the frogs from the well, trapped inside the box of our own. We each carry our own set of filters through which we see the world. This is where misinterpretation and misunderstanding arise. While it is impossible to reverse our perception, try to control your temptation to be presumptuous.
There was an interesting episode in our household on how we perceive things. When my daughter was in the restroom last night, she told us that there was the sound of ghost. We were puzzled by that. Then she said “Boo”. I still couldn’t understand it. Do you know what she meant? To see the answer, please move your mouse to the white space next to this sentence. “Poo” sounds like “Boo”, which is the sound of the ghost. Now you know what my daughter was doing inside the bathroom. Another example is the poem I wrote about the leprechaun house. http://elisaenglish.pixnet.net/blog/post/4743928
Messages are easily misunderstood, misinterpreted and miscommunicated from poor choice of words. How do we choose the right words? How do we communicate effectively? I would suggest that you begin with proper use of grammar as it is the foundation of any language. I am not talking about the rigorous rules but rather the fundamental ones. For example, when someone said “Unprecedented, latter does not have future”, can you tell what he was referring to? It makes no sense to me. The sentence is full of grammatical errors. The first error is the word “unprecedented”. Unprecedented is an adjective and it should be used to modify a noun. Where is the noun in this sentence? Second, what does “latter does not have future” mean? Who does not have a future? Again, “latter” is an adjective and should be used to modify a noun. It turns out that person was trying to say that the event was unprecedented and has been surpassed by none ever since.
People do judge you by how well you write and speak. I have seen several cases where people lost the opportunity to advance or get hired because of improper use of grammar. You might say that some colloquial English does not follow grammar rules. However, if you want to reduce confusion and to be regarded as an intelligent and educated person, you should always use proper grammar. This is a sarcastic video about bad grammar. http://www.hotforwords.com/2008/05/16/bad-grammar-parody-video/ Truly, how can you construct a coherent sentence and be understood without applying the basic rules?
Besides proper use of grammar to reduce confusion, to become a better communicator, you need to understand other people’s perceptions and perspectives. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Often, we get lazy and omit the important details. We get sloppy and forget our differences in value, culture and philosophy. We forget that we are all unique individuals. We forget who our audience is. To be understood, you must learn to use the words in your audience's language. For me, I do not learn to speak gangster language or African American English because that is not the language of my audience or the people I associate with. I once read a book “You just don’t understand”, written by a linguistics professor, Deborah Tannen. It talks about the complexities of communication between men and women. It is a pretty interesting book.
We cannot end the subject without stressing the importance of nonverbal communication and good listening skill. Mastering these skills will move us one step closer to becoming a successful communicator.
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