General transcript to podcast, with some variations
Personal and General Communication: Lots Can Go Wrong
We are living in a world with tons of information coming from every direction. We have to know how to filter and get what we need to function effectively without being overwhelmed. What happens however is that we get accustomed to getting the minimum of information and we lose the critical information we may need. This goes for any type of communication. Particularly now with so much technology that brings us even more information. Much of it unnecessary chatter. But it’s hard to tell what’s important and what isn’t. This is when we must remember to use common sense.
In a way, I put this topic here because everything relating to manners and rudeness has its core in communication, how and when we act, say, react, with another person as well as how we portray ourselves to the world. Though some people are very purposeful on how they show themselves to the world, many of us do so without much awareness. This can lead to misconceptions and judgment about who you are without it being the whole picture. So self-awareness is one of the goals I want to impart.
Ways we communicate
We communicate in various levels. We do it in person or virtually via technology like social media (see chapter for technology specific manners issues). We do this communication using our senses: hearing, seeing, feeling, touching and even for those who are intuitive, using a more subtle type of gut instinct. When we communicate with another person or persons we are sending a message out into the world and also receiving feedback on what we are doing. This seems so simple but we know better.
There is so much complexity here that there are fields of research dedicated to this. With all this, we still have so much to learn about effective communication. Whether we use in person or through phone, video chat, text, images, audio like voicemail or podcasts, we are leaving an impression about who we are. Is that impression accurate? To be accurate or effective we don’t necessary have to be kind or mannered. In fact some capitalize on crude, rude and obnoxious. But for those who care about harmony, that won’t do and we want to be aware of how we are expressing ourselves to others and others to us.
Let’s pick a few types of human interactions and see if it resonates with what is so often an impediment to effective and harmonious.
Oh No Moments
Not listening when someone is speaking to us.
How many times have you had a conversation with someone and noticed you were doing all the listening and the person was doing all the talking? If this happens once in a while, it’s okay, but if this happens all the time with the same person, something is amiss. Then that’s not communication, it’s a one way transmission. What if it’s you who does all the talking and not much of the listening? Many people who do this one way talking either pretend not to know or are unaware they are babbling away someone’s ear off. This can lead to long term problems if becomes a habit and affect your relationships in an adverse way.
Just not listening
I was on a call with a friend. She began talking about whatever was ailing her. I let her finish and did my best to support. At one point I wanted to say something and I noticed she just kept talking over me and going on and on about her issues. I listened some more and tried again a few moments later to get the same scenario throughout the conversation. At one point I almost thought she was listening because she responded with “Right, or “uh huh” but I was wrong it was a filler sound for her to continue on her rant. Needless to say this happened on the regular basis and it just wasn’t working so I stopped the conversations completely. She eventually got the point, but not everyone does and you may have to decide if this is worth continuing.
Talking too long
Some folks have the problem of talking too long on the phone or in person. Some people just don’t know when it’s time to end a conversation. It’s very frustrating. Whether in person or phone, video chat, there is an unspoken time limit. In some cases people have can be on a conversation with friends they are on for hours. Hey I did that in my youth. But as an adult one has to assess and control our time. Occasionally there may be a good reason for this but if it’s a habit it could be a way of avoiding doing important things in our lives. If the other person is on the same wavelength, then a case can be made that it’s okay. But if you are neglecting other parts of your life to just chatter, ask yourself, why is this happening. Are you disrespecting yourself and your fellow talker.
There are those who give unsolicited and bad advice on everything as so-called experts. There are people, and I’m sure you’ve met one or two who just love giving advice to everyone about everything. Equally so, they fancy themselves as experts in everything. These people range from a nosy neighbor to your local preacher. Yes, did, you know many people choose to be in the role of “leader” just to tell people what to do, when and how? Think about it. And they are often giving tremendous misinformation. The saddest part is that you have followers blindly listening out of fear and lack of self empowerment.
I have met on several occasions, people who 1) believe they are experts in any and everything and 2) love giving unsolicited advice and comments...
Carelessness in what you are saying, words can and do hurt.
There was a point where I was under tremendous stress and gained some wait. A person I knew socially took it upon themselves to tell me how I didn’t look so good and was getting fat. Yes, just like that. Of course I was offended and hurt. I was quite aware of this and didn’t need an insensitive person to say that. What was their intention? In this case it was pure carelessness. If someone cares, they will bring it up more sensitively. There is no point in hurting the person.
The critic and expert
There was a case of a self-proclaimed critic who told performers what they were doing wrong and how to be on stage when performing. I recall one time a man coming up to me after I did a song at a performance who told me I moved too much when I was singing. Apparently he did this to others as well. At the time I didn’t take too seriously until he did it a few more times.
He knew nothing of the type of performance I was doing and just enjoyed criticizing. I finally told him to mind his business and not worry about what I was doing; particularly since I got wonderful feedback from everyone else. He had no connection to the entertainment industry that gave him credibility and that was enough to ask him to leave me alone. Whatever his motives were, I had to ignore them and hoped all others he criticized did too.
Jumping to conclusions and being judgmental
One day I am at a lovely restaurant bar with my male companion. He noted a young woman sitting not too far from us was drinking a bit and speaking very loudly and he glanced at her a few times. He complained to me he couldn’t concentrate with you loud noise. Not too long after we were going to leave and turned back for a moment to get my jacket from the chair and she and I made eye contact. She reacted angrily and said, “What are you looking at?”
This took me by surprise because it was just a quick glance. I purposely asked her to repeat herself and she simply said “Yes and tell your boyfriend to stop looking too.” At this point I said well I was going to tell you how lovely you were but I changed my mind with that response!”
Apparently the staff knew her because they actually apologized to us. I told them it wasn’t necessary and we were almost out when she approached me. She said “I’m sorry” and gave me a hug. It was a really great ending.
Reason; Perhaps she had had previous experiences with being stared or looked at that made her feel uncomfortable or even led to arguments and fights.
Just saying the wrong things in the worst times, comments about someone health issues
Sometimes we want to support others in their time of need. This can be when they are ill, going through a crisis, when their loved one dies, etc. These are times when people are raw with emotion and sensitivity is key. For crying out loud they offer sensitivity trainings because some people just don’t have common sense in dealing with these issues. I would say, take a moment and think about what you are going to say or write. If you don’t know what to say, get some advice or do a little research. Better yet, just don’t say anything at all.
Things to avoid include:
“Oh you’ll be fine” Unless you’re they physician or therapist, I suggest not say this.
“Should should’ve or shouldn’t have don’t this that or the other.” Making someone feel guilty at a time of crisis is not helpful at all. If they do ask, there are ways of giving your opinion that are more effective than blaming.
“You’re too young for that illness/disease. “ Anything can happen at any time to anyone. So saying something like this is simply ignorant and again not helpful to an ailing person who needs as much positive energy as possible.
“My friend/mother had that (condition, illness) and died” Yes people say this. No one knows what an outcome will be for each individual. What happened to one person may not happen to another. And even if it does, saying it is not going to help.
“That doesn’t happen around here.” How many times have you seen someone interviewed or speaking of a crime or disaster and heard them say that? The issue is that as I said above, anything can happen at any time so why even say something when clearly it did happen.
Simply not knowing what to say. And chances are the person needs comfort or just a sounding board. Every case is different, but perhaps asking how you can help them or offering to be available should they need you could be helpful. Also, sometimes being present and really responding with anything specific is all they need.
Political situation. Friendships are destroyed, and wars are waged because of politics. We just can’t escape it...
The full story about someone’s personal situation
Bullying in all its forms
Misusing power. Bullying is found in many places throughout these pages. Not because it’s a big buzzword lately but because it is that is far too prevalent to be ignored any longer.
Talking about someone when they ARE there
Why people do this, I can only guess. There is a saying that goes “one shouldn’t speak badly of another if they are there to defend themselves”, I’m not sure who actually goes by this rule. People do speak of others whether they are there nor not. It is amazing how many people speak of others while they are in the vicinity. Some do it intentionally as in some bullies and others are just foolish. Follow this rule: If someone is present, restrain yourself.
Oops, you understood my language?
Atlantic city lady who skipped and I spoke in Spanish,
Um I can hear and see you talking about me
I hurriedly got into the elevator as did a few others before the doors closed and we were forced to wait a million years for the next ride. I pressed my floor and waiting for the short ride up to the 3rd floor. A man and woman spoke to each other looking at me and laughed to themselves but enough for me to hear them. I didn’t know what they said or why they were laughing.
Imagine the horror so adults talking about me right there with me there to witness it. My short ride seemed like an eternity. They seemed to really enjoy what they were finding amusing about me but I had it. The doors opened on the 3rd floor and I turned around and told them. “I’m right here and I can hear you.” I was so angry and embarrassed. They were shocked and I said as the doors closed, “next time make sure I don’t hear you.” I ran into the bathroom to check in the mirror to see if there was something out of place and there wasn’t anything I could find. In any case it was rude for them to do that.
Talking too close
The invisible bubble. Personal space, we all have it. Some need a few inches between themselves and others while others need a feet or more. It depends on where we are and who we are with. But we do require some space and boundaries. The issue is that some people don’t either don’t know or don’t care about this space and it causes major issues.
There are invisible but very real boundaries we should take notice of. We receive and give information via our senses and there are thresholds. I once new a lovely man who would greet me hello, squeeze me so hard it hurt then begin speaking so close I would get crossed eyed. I tried everything from gently back up, which only led him to move closer, to finding a physical boundary like a table or chair which worked very well. One can also say things like “I have to stand back because I don’t’ want to get you sick” It’s a necessary white lie if it gives you the healthy space you need.
Speaking too loud or soft
Other people don’t have volume control. If this is from a health issue like a hearing problem, that’s understandable. However, if you are in public do you really want others hearing what you’re saying? Well, I guess some do because they speak loudly without having a hearing issue. Speaking too low or mumbling is also an issue.
Accent that are too strong
There are times when language is an issue. In this case the person may have a very strong accent, so strong you just can’t understand them. Which is worse, pretending you understand them or telling them you don’t? It depends on the situation but I find that being gently honest is best. Now if you’re never going to see the person again, nod away and smile.
Interrupting, not paying attention, talking too much—
Your Speaking Tone
How you say things is as important as what you’re saying. Some people just don’t realize this fact or want to admit it. People do judge us in many ways and how we speak is one of them…(more)
There is trend out there for some people not to use the speaking voice to its fullest. I’m not just speaking of volume. I’m speaking of tone. I find this especially so with young women, from teenagers to those in their 30’s.
Have you been at a place and felt piercing in your ears because the person speaking had a squeaky, high pitched, singy-songy intonation contracted voice? This is considered smart, sassy and clever by some. Clearly it isn’t to the person sitting around you. Also, there is a trend for a guttural contracted way of speaking I see young women doing as well. It is usually loud and literally hurts when you hear them. If you do this and you should find out if you do, I suggest going to a speech therapist. Again, it’s about being able to express yourself to the world, including friends, family and those strangers around you, in a clear, meaningful manner.
Nonsense and over-used words
Not everyone is going to be a public speaker and has to be perfect when speaking. But if you are repeating the same words over and over again, it’s hard to understand what is truly being said. Many of us have done it at one point or another and once you become aware you can undo the habit. Overused words can be “like”, “amazing”, “totally” “yeah” “right”, “this is the thing/the thing is”, right, ok, absolutely, whatever, “sorta”, “kinda” sounds and non-words like ah, um, uh huh, Some words are overused in every day speaking while others are overused in the work place. Furthermore some words become trendy for a year or so then go away. Either way, the repetition make the word lose its meaning and becomes annoying noise.
How’s your breath?
Hey we are human, it happens. We eat certain things may even have a health issue that causes bad breath. The first thing is decide if you have the issue in the first place. Second, is it chronic or due to something you ate, and third find a way of dealing with it. We make judgments about each other on many criteria and bad breath is certainly one of them. …
I talk about this more in my memoir and guide book.
Are you a spitter when you talk?
Some people spit when then talk…. We all do it once in a while. What I suggest is that first make sure you have regular proper mouth hygiene for everyone’s sake. Then don’t get too close to a person you’re speaking to. If you do spit as your speaking, apologize, don’t pretend it didn’t happen because chances are the person you spat on is probably wanting to wipe it off but can’t if you don’t acknowledge it.
Body odor can be extremely disturbing
Humans are a combination of organic matter, physical components, biology and so forth. So like any living creature we all have a chemical composition and hence our own smell. Animals, all sorts of animals communicate via scent. We are no different. But since many of us live, work and socialize with many other people in sometimes confined spaces, we have to take our own body scent/smell into consideration and understand how it affects others around us.
The truth is, there are some body smell that are difficult to tolerate and plain offensive. Often time this can be controlled. With the exception of a serious medical condition or a person who is incapable of bathing for some reason like homelessness, body smell does not have to turn into offensive body order.
Let’s look/smell this more closely...
Talking about someone when they ARE there.
I hurriedly got into the elevator as did a few others before the doors closed and we were forced to wait a million years for the next ride. I pressed my floor and waiting for the short ride up to the 3rd floor. A man and woman spoke to each other looking at me and laughed to themselves but enough for me to hear them. I didn’t know what they said or why they were laughing. adults talking about me right there with me there to witness it. My short ride seemed like an eternity.
They seemed to really enjoy what they were finding amusing about me but I had it. The doors opened on the 3rd floor and I turned around and told them. “I’m right here and I can hear you.” I was so angry and embarrassed. They were shocked and I said as the doors closed, “next time make sure I don’t hear you.” I ran into the bathroom to check in the mirror to see if there was something out of place and there wasn’t anything I could find. In any case it was rude for them to do that.
Wishing You Wholeness