How to Bridge Communication Gaps

How to Bridge Communication GapsWhat does ‘communication’ mean to you?

Going by the dictionary, it means ‘ to impart or exchange information by one person or group to another using mutually understood symbols, sign or language.’

But are we able to make the other person understand what we mean, using these mutually understood signs or language? Or is there still a gap?

Often, we misunderstand the things we hear from others. We aren’t listening. We’re busy in anticipating what they mean by saying what they are. We fight. Argue. Meddle with other’s businesses. We compare. Judge. In the end, we feel, ‘Life’s complicated!’

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 It evidently feels that way when we add such complications by not doing a primary thing.

That is, to listen.

According to the rules of communication, ‘Communication is the responsibility of the sender.’

Are we listening when they speak? Or when they aren’t talking but are conveying through other means?

Understanding comes when we listen. When we interpret according to our knowledge, we aren’t letting the communication happen. Which is why misunderstandings are leading to grudges and messy situations.

Why aren’t we listening?

1. Not paying attention to non-verbal cues

One of the primary reasons why there are holes in communication is lack of receptivity. The other person doesn’t always convey through verbal means. There are also some non-verbal ways. For example, Dany kept telling me all kinds of stories about her new house and how they’ve settled in. Her eyes confirmed her happiness. But, when she paused for a moment, talking about her boyfriend, there was tension in her voice. She looked down as if to recall something. A memory, perhaps, I thought.

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She began clearing her throat and changed the subject to the wall hanging I’d recently got.

She didn’t have to tell me she was upset. Similarly, these subtle signs are for the receiver to notice.

I was interested in knowing what she was feeling at the moment. Someone else might not be. Lack of interest is why one fails to be receptive enough to understand the conversation.

Paying attention to the tone, pitch, facial expressions, body language and change in energy of the other person, will tell you all you need to know.

2. Past emotional baggage

Another reason could be the emotional baggage we are carrying the entire time. One may seem happier from outside and still have the capability to suppress all the anger, sadness, feelings of loneliness, or abandonment within.

When we avoid these feelings for a long time or distract ourselves too much, engage in different activities more often, we fail to communicate effectively. My mother complained when I threw my bag on the floor and ran off to my room after coming back from school on a summer afternoon.

‘Come back here. That wasn’t what I was saying, beta.’

I didn’t respond.

I was tired.

But more so, with all the frustration I felt when I came home. No one bothered to think about me. It was all about my elder brother all the time.

Many feel the same way. When we grow up, there’s a particular understanding that comes from bonding with your siblings, but as a child, people do suffer from such feelings of jealousy and comparison leading to frustration and anger.

Next week, as I can still recall, she made special breakfast for me, and I chose not to acknowledge it. This is what happens when one has an emotional burden. Our vision gets tainted with several notions, and in a way, I even ignored the sweet part.

3. Stereotypes

The third reason for such occurrences is stereotypes. When you go out with a closed mind, categorizing everything as per what you’ve learned so far, one misses out on the bigger picture. I agree it’s a natural human instinct to fit traits into different shelves to be able to have better judgment and survive. But knowing that it doesn’t serve any good in bridging the communication gaps, stereotyping has to be kept aside.

I met Jina two years ago. Recently, she told me how much she hated the Delhiites, that is before she met me. I was surprised to know of her observations. She believed people in Delhi give wrong directions on purpose, abuse for no reason, are mean, call out names, judge the most, and are rash drivers.

Well, then I asked her, how many had she seen who would fit into her category.

She had to think for a few minutes before saying, ‘there was.. that lady.. then that guy… then well.. my colleague.. and yeah.. my landlady..’ ‘But Roosh, my mother keeps saying it.. so there’s some truth to it. Mom’s always right about things.’

I asked her how many people she’d met who didn’t seem to have those negative qualities but were from Delhi, in fact. She gave me a more significant number this time and smiled instantly.

Having set categories or stereotypes, block your listening ability. Before you know it, you’re only concerned about the ‘type’ and not what it is.

Why not this?

3 ways to communicate better

Understanding self

When you know who you are, things seem natural. It comes to you smooth like a flowing river, what you want, and why you want it. A clear head leads to increased receptivity. You have a higher level of interest in what’s happening around you due to awareness of the self. One may not be able to look at the bigger picture if they’re not aware of their vision, achievements, or purpose.

Spending a few minutes daily, establishing a practice for yourself, knowing and observing things about yourself gets you closer to what’s going on inside you. Meditation can be one way to go about it. While even swaying to a rhythm every day for a few minutes can help.

Releasing the emotional baggage

Once you get to the bottom of it, acknowledge those feelings that are pulling you down, every time you try to achieve something but are unable to communicate appropriately, letting go of them through techniques like EFT and NLP, help in clarifying your vision. 

Taking notice of the good things in others, communicating your regards, pursuing the goals, whether in your personal or professional life, gives a happier and healthier life. It also means a balance between the two. Keeping yourself distracted with loads of work, won’t be necessary once you heal on those emotions which are creating such a need in your life. What if a job can be fun? Ever thought about it?

Open and stay open

Once you know where the other person is coming from, you can have a better idea. No, this doesn’t refer to those pre-conceived categories! Their body language, expressions, hand gestures, etc. will tell you what they mean.

How to bridge communication gaps

Every individual is different. Each has their own story, skills, with different ideas and values. Why not give the other person some benefit of a doubt before painting them on our shelves?

The world is made of many creatures we can and cannot possibly imagine. If all of that is possible, including some theories which do exist and no scientific logic has been found for their existence, what if we begin to stay open for whatever comes and observe without judgment.

What if things could be as simple as conveying to others and getting on with our lives.

To see the situation for what it is.

To understand and know.

To listen and respond without bias.

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