Many people think no one cares what they say and they are “all right, thank you.” Fortunately for me, there are others who take the problem of communication seriously, so it’s mainly to them I’m writing.
The fact that humans have had difficulty with communication has been obvious throughout time. It’s the same all over the world; we aren’t the only ones who are aware of the difficulty. It’s even behind most of our political differences.
A long time ago, I was teaching communication from a how-to-do-it perspective for managers and supervisors, and used to say, “Communication, in the rare instances when it happens, is the only scientifically logical demonstration of the reality of God. Since it’s a miracle, and since only God can create miracles, when it actually happens, there must be a God.”
(The concept was used as a teaching tool and not as an insultingly small argument in a big dialogue.)
Another way of saying it’s difficult is to talk about the blockages that often stand in the way of our communication. How many people have wondered why they feel like they’re trying to talk through an invisible sound barrier that prevents any meaning from passing through? (More about barriers next month.)
Most of us don’t communicate fully, nor do we excuse ourselves for not communicating, mainly because we don’t even know it didn’t happen. Nevertheless, it’s important, and something we need to learn. I believe it’s becoming more important every day, with all the changes we are experiencing.
We often see the problem most clearly in the themes of novels, movies and TV programs. We’ve all seen examples of the “generation gap” — for example, a father being completely unable to understand a daughter or a son.
What we usually fail to realize is that the disagreement is most often about different ways of seeing the world and not about what’s good or bad.
Change happens, and it’s usually larger than is obvious. The world and the society around us lurches onward, adapting how it will to that change.
Sometimes the changes are invisible and surprising to us. In the meantime, families grow and change as well, and these changes, too, are not always visible.
Children adapt and grow up in a society often very different from that of their fathers, each of them “fixed” to a picture of the culture in which they grew up, seeing the world through very different glasses and believing their view is “right.” The different positions become huge divides between people, even larger because they’re usually unconscious.
Working on it is a lot better than the alternatives. We’re going into the future, whether we want to or not. It’s better to go together — it’s not only less lonely, but it creates a good feeling when it happens.