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Understanding | Relationships | Happiness | Joy

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

The Natural Result of Communication Today is MIS-UNDERSTANDING

Know What?

In the picture above you see many words representing the attitude of folks with an open mind and those with a closed mind. Your mind, like mine, is sometimes open and sometimes closed. Often it is tilted towards what is familiar, and easy. We all seek to maintain our comfort zones. Yet, we don't know what we don't know.

One of the things we don't know is a foreign language. There are too many to know them all.

Here is a challenge we face every day - we don't speak the language of whomever we are speaking to at the moment, but often we don't know what that is doing to make the situation less than harmonious. A good example is a prospective employee interview where the job prospect has been in a technical field or something unrelated to our own world. Perhaps it's a veteran returning from overseas duty and they use acronyms too much. "I worked for the DOD in a P5 specialty" explains little to the interviewer.

It will take longer for task tension (the need to do something constructive) to go up unless the two parties take pains to explain in simple terms. The relationship tension must go down.

This would be obvious if one party spoke Mandarin Chinese and the other spoke Spanish. Also, the problem would be quickly resolved with an interpreter. It is quite obvious what is needed. Not so in most of our daily interactions.

So What?

These subtle problems cause a lot of misunderstanding that cause tension and make task tension (the ability to get stuff done) much harder. Thus a conscious effort to make the communication bridges better, faster, and wider, will make your life easier and more satisfying. Curiosity helps. In the May 2023 blog we talked about Curiosity itself as a trait, and that blog is worth a reread.

Here though, the focus is how easy it is to slide into misunderstanding because we often create, however, unwittingly, our own Tower of Babble. It is no coincidence that a popular online language learning course is called BABEL. SEAL teams have powerful terminology known only to them so thy can function at very high levels under stress. Without it their mission would fail.

In 'Retirement Years', whatever that is, marriages can become undone without a conscious effort to improve communication and increase understanding. (See John Kotter online). So the dangerous consequences of a closed mind can be serious, depending on your circumstances. Time to think about that. Where are you missing the boat?

Now What?

The good news is that you can do a lot for yourself very quickly! You don't have to read a book, or go online. You do need a brief action plan and you need to follow it, so decide to take 10-15 minutes to start and see where it leads. (Curious?). Start with this one question:

Next time you are listening to someone, ask yourself: are you listening to respond, or are you listening to understand? And next, say to the other party: "Let me see if I can summarize what you just said in an acceptable way... Are you OK with that?"

Good listening requires more energy than speaking. It is like all skills. It leaves quietly in the night without some attention.

Lastly, call or contact me when you have an AHA and share it. It's fun to compare notes! I can send you some good question lists that are FREE, and make you even more curious.

Happy Days Ahead

Joe Grant, MBA

Certified Retirement Coach

Contact me for a Free 45 minute Consultation at

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