Some People Are Oblivious
By Annette Rey
Words have as much weight and substance as any tangible object because, after hearing them, they anchor every act we are about to take. Among many other reasons to communicate, words direct, request, demand, insinuate, insult, compliment, plead, and dress our lives with beauty. Yet there are some who don’t give words a thought.
So how can we benefit from the communication of people who throw words around like they are so much fluff, and simply noise in the wind?
First, let’s look at this example.
On Monday, your wife mentions she’d like to go for a ride in the country on the coming Saturday. You ask, “Is that all you want to do? Take a ride?” She says yes. On Wednesday, she mentions again how she is “looking forward to a ride.” You ask again, “And you don’t want to do anything else, just ride.” Again, she says yes and even adds she doesn’t need to do anything else. Saturday comes and you grab your car keys and say to her, “Are you ready to go for our ride?” She says yes and gets into the car. After an enjoyable ride, she says she’d like to stop at a river below a bridge you are crossing. You maneuver your car and park riverside. As you are sitting there, enjoying the birdsong and fresh air, she gets out of the car and demands, “Well. Are you going to sit there or get the fishing gear out for me?” You are shocked. All week you have been told – even after you double-checked with her – that this jaunt was just to ride; she made no mention of fishing. You say, “You didn’t tell me you wanted to fish.” She responds, “Well, I have new flies!” You say, “You expect me to know this fact without telling me? And I didn’t pack the gear. Why didn’t you say you wanted to fish?” And she answers, “I didn’t think it was a big deal.” She then turns the circumstance into your fault: you’re not a mind-reader, you’re not efficient, you’re lazy and neglectful of her. What you are is confused! How can people assume anyone knows what someone wants to do without verbalizing the words?
You are in the trick bag because the speaker’s communication skills are lacking. AND, the speaker has not put herself in the position of her listener. Her communication is very one-sided. It boils down to point-of-view (POV). That sounds familiar, right?
It matters what you say – and what you leave out. Direction is necessary for planning and future outcome. The burden is left on the listener if he doesn’t have the information he needs. In the case above, both parties have stress and part of their day has been darkened.
In real life, when this happens repeatedly, it makes a person wonder if the speaking party is deliberately planning a defeat for the listener or is simply clueless as to the purpose of speaking words.
Be observant. Be alert. Parse conversations. Do you want to cause consternation for your readers? Of course not. Read your work from the reader’s POV. Be sure what you have written is what you mean to convey. And as a writer, concentrate on restricting the painful and negative side of communication to your stories.
Practice speaking skills by being precise in your verbal communication with others. This will transfer over to your writing ability.
Happy speaking and happy writing!