“Learning how to love, how to communicate, how to understand, how to empathize, how to forgive and how to reconcile are all effective skills that should be developed,”
“Well”, I thought, “perhaps I could share some of the things I’ve learned about aging well through embracing change and managing the challenges that are part of active living. I thought about the challenges I faced when, in my seventies, I decided to write my first novel about a “second chance at love”- –a story of a couple, alone again after the death of their spouses, and their children busy with their own careers and families. I had to put myself, psychologically, in the role of my characters, both the female and the male, to grasp their feelings and understand their motivations and fears. (Of course that meant I left many reams of crumpled paper on the floor before my story was told.)
The statement, I’ve underlined above, speaks to the very real concerns that all of us have faced at some point when we interact with others—at any emotional level. I’m sure that all of us have experienced a situation where we spoke up, intending to be helpful, but what we said was not understood to be what we meant --and we realized we missed the mark.
It is true that we need to confront our own inability to say what we mean and mean what we say…that’s the first step in clear communication. What we say will not be clear to someone else if we are not clear in our own minds about what we want the person to hear. Even then, the words may not have the same meaning to the person spoken to as it does to the one speaking. So, with a simple exchange you can have four different points where misunderstanding can occur:
For example, with the simplest communication, we have the following: (a) what the speaker said, (b) and what the speaker meant; and then from the listener, (c) what was heard and (d) what the listener understood it to mean.
Think about this: if communication can be helpful—for the same reason it can be hurtful. Most of us want to be helpful when we comment, instruct or question others. You can master the skills of effective or helpful communication and actually open communication so that the exchange is both interesting and useful.