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May, 2014 - Words vs. Communication.

Learning how to write is much easier than learning how to communicate effectively because writing alone does not care if or how the words are received. Great writers throughout the ages are admired by readers primarily for their ability to craft thought and emotion into words but words are not always the goal. Ask experienced writers about the most important part of their work and you may be surprised to find it is less about the words and more about communication. Communication starts when the writer cares how their meaning is received. Sometimes this requires rewriting, rephrasing, and refining the words many times in different ways to get the real message across to someone which is even harder if they have a different background or different frame of reference. This is the foundation for better writing. How does this help you?

There are two sides to all communication. The first is the ability to effectively express thoughts and feelings in a meaningful way. The second, and probably more important, is the ability to hear and comprehend what others express. Words have no value without a reader or listener that can hear the meaning carried by the words. Unfortunately there is no such thing as perfect communication. Even in the electronic world communication errors are so likely that often layers of protocols are needed to catch errors before they cause problems. If it is impossible for two computers to perfectly communicate with each other without error checking, what hope is there for humans that need to communicate with other humans using words with flexible meanings?

It is rare for a word to have just a single well defined, well known, and well understood meaning because each word can hold different things depending on context, inflection, and tone. This may be why effective communication in a relationship is a constant challenge and requires so much effort. Every relationship naturally has spots where communication is weak or prone to errors. It takes time and effort to identify the weak areas and work through or around them. Some attempt to overcome miscommunication with a combination of repetition, loudness, or higher pitch but often this only makes things worse when the actual problem is less about the words and more about the context and interpretation each person brings to the conversation.

It is important to look at both the writer and reader, the speaker and listener when considering how to overcome communication errors and improve effectiveness. Ineffective or inaccurate expression is just as bad as not listening or listening and missing the meaning. It starts with a writer caring how someone else receives their words and ends with someone hearing the real thoughts and feelings in the words.

In your relationship do you care how your words are received? How are you receiving the words of your partner?

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Some past blog entries from our archive:

  • April 2014: Close Enough.
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  • April 2013: Creative Value.
    Virtually everything we enjoy in our modern world is the result of a creative mind thinking up new ways to make something better. Creativity is the one thing that has proven to be very hard for the academic world to grasp and hold. Creativity is hard to measure using a standardized test or to teach using the current standardized methods, but maybe there is ... [Read more]
  • April 2012: Travel Together.
    Travel is good for the mind and yet can be even better for the heart. Every person that travels outside their comfort zone returns home changed with a better perspective compared to where they started. There are many quotes from both the famous and anonymous telling of the power travel has to expand the mind, but it is a little more rare to find the same for how travel changes a relationship. [Read more]
  • April 2011: Hear Here.
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  • April 2010: Riverbank Economy.
    Every economy (personal, local, national or global) is like a river. People gather by the riverside to use the water for different purposes. Some drink the water, some wash, some use the water to irrigate and grow food while others just use the power of flowing water to do other work. [Read more]
  • April 2009: The Games of Life.
    Life is a big game made up of smaller games where you are forced to discover the rules by playing. When born you must discover the rules of how to ask for basic needs. In school you must discover ... [Read more]
  • April 2008: Vaporware! The Most Amazing Thing You May Never See!
    The world has a lot of dreamers. At some point in life, everyone has an idea or two about how to make something better, right a wrong or create something totally new. Sadly, too many people are content with sitting on those ideas and letting them fade away into the shadows of our forgotten past. [Read more]
  • April 2007: History Libre.
    How much knowledge, understanding and wisdom is lost just because some self-absorbed child felt his elders were impossibly stuck in the past with no grip on ... [Read more]
  • April 2006: The Bill Snooze Alarm.
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  • April 2005: The Write Word.
    Twenty years ago the business world was just waking up to electronic communication through the written word in email. This sparked a revolution that launched the BBS market and ultimately opened the door to the explosion of ... [Read more]