You wanna know what I think is sad, scary, aggravating, confusing and annoying? People who are unable and/or unwilling to explain themselves. So many people lack the vocabulary—well, not so much the vocabulary as the ability to arrange words and sentences to get their point across with precision. But because so many people are unable to do this, when they try to explain their plans/ideas/thoughts/feelings/whatever to other people, the other person thinks they don’t know what they’re talking about or that their ideas are just plain stupid. Another thing that aggravates me is those people that never seem to think that maybe they don’t understand what the person is trying to say; maybe they meant something else that isn’t what the sentence they said means. But no… all these people on the receiving end seem to perceive is the often-incorrect “fact” that the other person is stupid and/or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Okay, so in the past I, too, have been guilty of both not explaining myself properly and either not getting it or being the victim of someone’s bad explanation and then jumping to conclusions that what they were trying to say didn’t make sense, simply because what they were saying didn’t. So maybe I’m being a hypocrite for accusing others of the very same thing. But someone has to accuse…
What makes it worse is when Jack tells Jill, “You don’t understand!” and Jill interprets it to mean “You’re stupid and didn’t register the logic”, whether or not it’s true. Maybe Jack meant “I didn’t explain it properly, I’m sorry”. And Jill is jumping to conclusions. She thinks that Jack is insulting her intelligence and/or that he thinks he’s the only smart person there who can understand it… and furthermore Jack didn’t explain himself properly, which makes it even harder for Jill to get the message.
When people tell others something they should not expect the others to blindly believe what they say—they should explain why they believe that. Unfortunately when you explain, the person you are explaining it to sometimes thinks that you are insulting their intelligence… which is a dilemma… either risk insulting people’s intelligence, or get your point across clearly to everyone. When people don’t know whether or not you’re underestimating them it adds a new worry to the confusion.
And I’m talking about all those arguments on webboards, all those little squabbles that got the intense discussion forums taken away at various boards… it’s sad, really, when people feel they have to resort to censoring everyone’s opinions altogether just because of a few misunderstandings. When the misunderstandings were going on, at least some people were getting heard and understood. Now it’s just nothing.
Why are there so many presumptions? Why do so many people assume that others know what they mean? It makes for horrible communication… especially when the others pretend to know what they mean because they think they should have figured out something they didn’t, and couldn’t have, a lot of the time. The conversation moves on without one person asking what the other person meant, thus each one understands the other less and less as the conversation moves along.
Then there’s the matter of people not wanting to slow down the progress of the conversation by asking people what they mean. They don’t realize that not asking does the conversation more harm than asking! (For the above-mentioned reasons, that is.)
Now back to miscommunication-- why are human beings so darn awful at communicating with one another? Man, humans deserve to be victims of miscommunication! They bring it upon themselves by miscommunicating! I don’t mean all human beings—it would be unfair to say that even the ones who understand others and get their points across precisely deserve to be misunderstood or to feel confused. That’s why I’m so concerned about this communication thing—there are innocent victims. Otherwise I would feel that justice was being done naturally and let them eat cake. But sometimes I think that the ones who are bad at understanding deserve not to be understood, and the ones who are bad at explaining themselves deserve to be confused… but maybe that type of thinking is a bit corrupted.
Miscommunication is an awful thing. In my humble opinion… and part of the reason kids don’t pay attention to their parents is because the parent will say, “Don’t scribble on the walls!” without explaining to the child why he shouldn’t scribble on the walls. If the child asks why he’s not allowed to scribble on the walls, the lazy parent says, “Because I said so!” as if the reason is none of the child’s business! And often that’s the message the child gets… that the parent thinks it’s none of his business, and that he’s being nosy for asking questions and instead should blindly trust the parent and follow orders like a robot. The child grows up doing this and this often produces a person who is easily brainwashed and who is scared to think independently lest he get beaten up… either that or the person has either forgotten they can think independently, or forgotten how. All this because of his father’s problem with (lack of) communication.
Another thing… when people yell at others while trying to get their point across, and then the other person starts to yell… but never actually listens. I don’t think it’s just the fault of the yeller. Yes, he’s making it difficult for some people to listen to him… they’re reacting to his yelling rather than what he says. But they should also be reacting to what he says. Did they ever think that the reason why he’s yelling may be because so many people didn’t understand him and he’s fed up? No, he shouldn’t be taking his frustrations out on innocent others, or making it seem like he is. No, he shouldn’t be starting the chain reaction that leads to a full-blown brawl. No, he shouldn’t be making it hard for others to get his message. And he shouldn’t be making it hard for people to talk to him over the noise of the yelling or for fear that they will get yelled at. But it’s the others’ fault for being provoked by the yelling, for taking it personally, for yelling back instead of listening, and for making him yell even more because they’re reacting to how he’s saying what he’s saying instead of what he’s saying. And the people who have to listen to the yelling may be talking so loudly or intently that that person has to yell in order for the others to stop ignoring him and listen to what he has to say… he may be trying to tell them that both their points are wrong and why. He may have started out in a normal voice but the others may have continued to ignore him. And then other people—bystanders—mistakenly think that just because a certain person is yelling, he was the one that started the chaos. So many people care more about how things look than about how they are.
Then there’s hypocrisy… wow! It comes in huge chains like once when someone smugly told me to stop being smug and imposing my opinions, and maybe people might actually listen to me. Then another person told her smugly to stop imposing her opinions, and to stop being a hypocrite, and that then maybe I’d listen to her.
Anyway, another thing… when something is subjective, I think everyone should say “In my humble opinion”, because it really is no more than that. But I do not, and never have, believed that when something is objective people should have to say after stating their opinion, “That’s just my humble opinion, though.” 1+1=2 in my humble opinion? Yeah right! Yes, people can be wrong, but I believe that while they don’t have the right to misinform people, they do have the right to their beliefs… waitaminute, this is another one of those issues that has to be settled by the majority! Nooooo! *bashhead* Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, people have the right to their opinions when the subject is subjective. (However, they should know that it’s subjective and not impose their opinions). But when there is an objective right answer they don’t… sorry. All too often people say, “Everyone has the right to their opinions.” But they either assume everything is subjective or are not explaining themselves properly. And the sad part of this is that people that say this who don’t believe everything is subjective often make people think that they do believe that, and those people, who often have the same opinions as them, think they are stupid, and the opposite of what they are. (And this is the fault of all the people involved.)
Changing the subject, I also remember once when someone started a thread on a board linking to an IQ test, and we all took the test (at least the others said they did) and then we told each other our marks. Everybody’s was really high (compared to the average person). Then I started a thread about an emotional IQ test (which tested communication skills) and everyone took the test and the marks they said they got were… low. (Mine was low too, actually). I also noticed elsewhere that the most intelligent people seem to be the worst at communicating (a lot of the time, anyway). Is it because they’ve figured out so much, therefore have so much to say that they have to get it out right away, and don’t have time to make it sound tactful, lest they forget what they have to say? I think it’s a shame that the people who have the most to say have the hardest time getting it out. (And yes, I know that a really intelligent person shouldn’t have to worry about forgetting their opinions because they’d have a photographic memory, or they would think about writing it all down elsewhere. And they would know the best way to convince people… but there don’t seem to be very many people like that around here).
Another thing that bothers me is when miscommunication happens because people don’t realize when something is a matter of personal interpretation. (Like, the temperature is objective, but whether it is hot or not is subjective). An example: Jimmy asks Betty, “Is it hot outside?” because he wants to know if he has to wear a jacket. Betty says, “Yes.” Jimmy goes outside without a jacket and finds it cold, and gets mad at Betty for “lying” about the “fact” that it was cold, telling him that it was hot.
That’s why I don’t buy the “the higher the intelligence, the worse the communication skills” theory. Communication skills are a part of intelligence. Many miscommunications are a direct result of lack of logic—lack of intelligence!
And on a side note: logic is what a lot of empathy, if not all, is based on. An example: you are facing a person and between you is a piece of cardboard that is white on your side. You don’t know what color it is on the other person’s side until the cardboard gets turned around, or you and the other person switch sides. Then you see that the side the other person was looking at is black, and you know that now they’re looking at the white side. Empathy is logic, sympathy is feelings. Empathy is knowing, sympathy is caring. Empathy is necessary to have the right kind of sympathy (unless by some fluke you just happen to care without knowing and care the right way that will help the person). So really, “I don’t want their sympathy, just their empathy” is a phrase that is bound for miscommunication. What most of the people who say this mean is “I don’t want you to give me comfort for the wrong type of ailment—that’s useless. Give me a cure for the ailment that I have—and in order to do that, you have to be able to diagnose.” As in, “Have sympathy, but comfort me for the feeling I have, and in order to know what I’m feeling or probably feeling, you have to use logic.”
Now changing the subject, let’s talk about those awful situations where Person 1 is talking about one thing thinking that Person 2 is also talking about that, and Person 2 is talking about another thing and he thinks that Person 1 is also talking about that… but the things they are talking about are very similar, so they can’t tell that it’s two different things they’re talking about. Instead, they can’t understand each other’s opinions and each one thinks the other is crazy or stupid. Let’s say they’re both talking about the same subject: is intelligence objective or subjective? But they’re talking about two different aspects of the subject. Person 1 says it’s objective because in order to be smart one has to have more right answers than wrong ones. Person 2 says that it’s subjective because smart and dumb are just like hot and cold—everyone has their own interpretation of it, even though the temperature (or person’s intelligence) stays the same.
Has it ever occurred to Person 1 that he simply does not understand Person 2’s point of view? No, and that’s not entirely Person 1’s fault. It is kind of because they didn’t say, “I don’t understand” (however, it is understandable that when a person believes something they believe it, and it is cruel to expect them to blindly trust that they are wrong… when someone has an opinion they obviously think it is right and it is literally impossible for them to think they are wrong… otherwise it isn’t a complete opinion, but a guess.) But it’s also Person 2’s fault for not getting the message across. Ditto for Person 2 in relation to Person 1. It’s also both their faults for not realizing that they weren’t talking about the same thing, but accidents happen, so it wasn’t entirely the fault of the people.
And I’m sorry if any of you don’t understand this, or part of it… I think I tried my best to explain. I just think it’s sad when bad communication skills are mistaken for stupidity.