What Did You Say?


I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. -Unknown

Whereas projections may occur on an unconscious and/or abstract level, communication is the transmission of those projections on a practical level. On the surface communication seems quite simple. However, as you have learned from the problem of projection, cognitive dissonance, distrust, and role reversal skills, it is not always so easy to understand others.

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and The Hunting of the Snark, illustrate the complexity of human communication. Humpty Dumpy said, "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less." "The question is, "said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things," " The question is," said Humpty Dumpy, "who is to be master, that's all."

Perhaps, an operational definition of communication could be stated as follows: the process of making verbal or nonverbal contact with two or more people with the purpose of conveying a message. Effective communication exists when the receiver interprets the message the way the sender intended it. Communication with each other may be classified into two basic kinds of information: cognitive and affective, the former is concerned with the transmission of facts and the latter with the transmission of feelings and emotions.

Select a group to observe, or sit down in a crowded area, and listen to a number of  conversations going on. Use the following guide to determine if you think communication that was going on was clear. Describe the place, time, and date and the groups you observed and briefly comment on the following. You may wish to add other comments.

1. Did the listeners give any clue as to whether they actually listened to the message?.

2. Did the listeners hear only part of the message and comment on parts of it?

3.Did the listeners seem to make judgments and evaluations of the talker?

4. Did the listeners seem to understand the content, but not the import of the message?

5. What other ineffective communication behaviors did you notice? [1]

1. David Johnson,, Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self Actualization 8th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon: 2003, p. 158

Email: rbrehm@msn.com  
Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.