My wife, Linda, and I sometimes have a bit of a tiff because one of us was sure we told the other something but the other person insists they were never told. She might say she was sure she told me to pay a bill by a certain day. Oh, no you DI’INT! Or maybe I will say I remember distinctly telling her that so and so called. Oh, no you DI’INT!
In most cases what was said actually was said. She told me, I told her. The problem isn’t what was said, it’s what was heard. I know I am guilty plenty of times of not registering what someone has said to me. I am going to go out on a limb and say my wife has been guilty of it a time or two as well. We thought we were communicating but if no one hears it, were we really?
What We Have Here
In the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke’ Luke, the character played by Paul Newman, is subjected to a boat load of punishment because he will not obey his jailers. In the most famous scene of the movie (and #11 in the all time greatest Hollywood movie quotes) his jailer, after beating him says to the onlooking prisoners, “What we have here is failure to communicate.” But when you actually watch the scene and hear the next line, “Some men you just can’t reach”, what the jailer seems to really be saying is there is a failure to listen. That is different than communicating. He is blaming Luke for not listening, not himself for not communicating properly.
But in our daily life it behooves us to ask questions from both sides. First, am I actually communicating well? Is what I am saying accurate and making sense? And second, is the person listening? And if they are, are they actually comprehending what it is I am saying?
If we can do those things we are closer to making sure communication actually has taken place, right?
Periscope on Katch.me
Here is the ‘Guess the Quote’ broadcast I did on Periscope as I drew the napkin. If you would like to find out more about Periscope click the periscope link at the top of the page.
We were watching an episode of the TV show ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ last week (don’t judge). A girl was smitten with a guy. She was convinced it was a match made in heaven based on their date together. At the same time some of the other contestants on the show were starting to think maybe he didn’t have those same feelings. How? A little bit by what he said, which was mostly talking about another girl who wasn’t even on the show yet, but mostly by his body language, his non-verbal communication, toward the girl he had the date with.
The day after the date, he avoided her like the plague. When two of the guys went to her and said they had doubts about his intentions she confronted him about it. He said that he was interested but had kept his distance so as to not smother her. He then confronted to two guys, accusing them of throwing him under the bus and that he felt betrayed. It caused both the men to apologize to him and her. One even broke down, so mortified that he had accused him of that when he really shouldn’t have.
Truth and Trust
The kicker? We the audience have been watching him being interviewed apart from everyone else. And his intent? He couldn’t care less about that girl, he just needed to get a rose this week so the woman he hoped would be at ‘paradise’ would show up next week. He’s been a snake, a liar, a schemer and a con man. A week later the girl he wanted to date showed up. it turns out they had been in contact before the show and knew each other would be there. All he had to do was stay long enough for her to arrive and he did it by playing the unsuspecting woman.
What the guys and girls thought was true, turned out to be true. They picked up on his insincerity but they didn’t trust their instinct. They didn’t believe they could trust what was obvious, albeit unsaid.
How good are you at hearing what isn’t said?
See the Periscope video of me drawing the napkin and the Napkin Kin guessing the quote here.
Drawing and commentary @ 2015 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Quote by Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, American Management Consultant
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My increasing use of Periscope has made me think a lot about communication lately so I am starting a new series on it this week.
Who We Are
Have you ever listened to someone who is so grating, so annoying that you just can’t stand to listen to them? It really doesn’t matter what they say, you pay no attention because all you can think of is wanting them to shut up. You can’t hear what they are saying.
Or perhaps you are up late at night watching a televangelist or a informercial and you hate it but still watch it. It’s like watching a car wreck. You want to turn away because it’s ugly and gruesome but you want to watch to see how bad it may get. But while doing that you aren’t actually listening to the message or the product qualities, you are only watching for the perverse entertainment value. You can’t hear what they are saying.
Sometimes the person hasn’t said a word yet and you already have decided not to listen to him or her. It could be because you are prejudice against them due to their race or gender. Maybe it’s because they are in a certain political party or on a certain TV or Radio station. But whatever the case you aren’t open to hearing what they have to say.
I’ve listened to enough Fox News to know they are not my cup of tea. When I heard they were going to put on the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle I did not have high expectations. When it became obvious Donald Trump was going to be front and center in that debate I didn’t have high expectations either. But what I did have was an open mind. I was willing to watch the debate and hear all of them, in spite of some reservations about both the news channel and the candidates.
I would still not consider myself a fan of Fox News. But I am a fan of how the three people did their jobs as journalists asking questions. I thought they were tough and to the point. They exceeded my expectations, especially Megyn Kelly.
I was not a fan of Donald Trump before the debate and I am still not a fan. He lived up to my preexisting opinion of him, which is; take away the money and fame and you are looking at an insensitive, simplistic, bullying brute. Put him in overalls and give him a wad of tobacco instead of being in a bespoke suit and tie and he would be considered the worst cartoon stereotype of a backward, uneducated and mean-spirited hick you could find.
In both cases though I was open to having my opinion changed. I was not so set against something or someone that I was unwilling to consider what it is they actually said. I heard what they said and I made my judgment.
Their Fault, My Fault
I do my best to hear what a person has to say but I am not always able to do that. Sometimes there is just too much of ‘who they are’ in the way. But my effort, in spite of not always succeeding, is to take that out of the equation as best I can.
Of course, I want people to hear me clearly as well. I hate the idea that someone will not hear me because I have a bad reputation or because they have some negative memory of me. That is my fault and I have to live with it. If that is something I can control going forward then I want to control it.
But if someone can’t hear me because I am a man, or an older man, or white, or middle class, or American, or not their version of Christian or something else that has to do with their prejudice more than who I am, then I have to let that go. I can be sensitive to not live up to certain stereotypes of course, but I am going to have the best outcome by being the best me I can be, not by fighting every possible prejudice there might be against me.