How simple life would be if only people could communicate properly! Why is it that so many people fail to find a suitable way of expressing their concerns?
As an example of what I mean: In a block of flats, Mr X was frightfully annoyed about neighbour Y’s pram, which he thought was always in the way. So he got his lawyer to write a sniffy letter to Mrs Y. Unsuspecting, Mrs Y opened the letter and was amazed to read its contents, especially as she thought she had a good relationship with her neighbour – after all since she even looked after Mr X’s cat for him on occasion when he was away. Concerned and not a little upset, she immediately rang her neighbour’s doorbell to apologise for the nuisance caused by the pram and to talk to him about it. But his flatmate, who opened the door, turned her away, saying he didn’t want to talk to her.
As I see it, this is a catastrophic way of going about solving grievances. So often, if you talk early enough about a problem, it opens up whole new aspects, synergies and contacts. So is it clever to wipe out your supposed opponent straight away, before having got any information from him/her? It is always surprising in this so-called age of communication, just how little regard there is for direct communication. But maybe this is just symptomatic: With all the many indirect, electronic ways of communicating with each other, we have forgotten how to handle direct confrontation, face-to-face communication, how to interpret spoken language, gesture, facial expression and tone of voice, all rolled up in one communicative act. This loss is turning communication more and more into a generic, nuance-free phenomenon, without any scope for detecting subtle undertones. We are less and less well trained in responding spontaneously to people we talk with, of interpreting any slight hesitation in their responses, or exploiting a tiny hint of a smile and turning it to the good. As such we lose out on many opportunities, in our professional as well as private lives.
So, what of my little story? Well, while the lawyers were busily engaged in a flurry of letter-sending, little Lena-Marie learned to walk and so the pram was no longer needed. Sadly, the good neighbourly relations were destroyed for all time and the cat must now spend his time in the cattery when his owner goes away, because »gossip« does still work as a style of communication . . .
I hope you all enjoy our February issue, in particular the novum plus section, which this month is about highly nuanced communication without words,
All the best,