Human communication is, perhaps, the most misunderstood issue of our time. Communication between people is underused, overused or abused. When we talk, we talk too much. When we listen, we hear only what we want to hear, and even our eyes deceive us because the rest of our senses are not tuned into what the eyes are seeing.
Family communication is likely the most honest form of all communication. Within the family we say what we want, hear what we must and see with our eyes wide open because we have nothing to fear. Nothing coming out of an Uncle’s mouth will surprise you and you love him anyway because you see beyond his thoughtless words. He may have been there when you were born, helped you learn to ride your first bicycle and defended you; he’s family. The same goes for your mother, father, siblings and cousins. They may be full of shit, but you understand who they are.
Organizational communications, however, is not as honest as family communication, and it can never be that way. If you listen and accept A’s idea, B is insulted and C may be confused. If B confides in you and you intentionally, or unintentionally let B’s information out to A or C, then you’ve lost the trust of all three. Staying loyal and keeping the trust between different people who have different views is very difficult, not to mention the fact that you may have views that differ from the others yourself. After a while sorting out your views from other’s views can become as difficult as putting a boxed puzzle together without a picture of what the end result is supposed to look like.
Maybe, the only way to remain loyal to everyone is to be like the Three Wise Monkeys. See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Evil in this case is a loose term because anyone involved can see another’s idea as self-serving or evil, when that may not be the case. Make no mistake, though, no matter who you’re talking too, listening too or seeing in front of you, they have an agenda. That agenda usually involves an outcome that suits their needs or beliefs, and may go against some of your own.
So what do you do? It’s said we need to be true to ourselves and our own beliefs, and if we can find others whose beliefs are compatible with our own to some degree, then we should probably bond with them. You cannot please everyone no matter how much you would like to. Everyone is not going to be your friend. Some will pretend to be a friend but speak poorly of you behind your back. No one is likely to ever put your self interest above their own.
When someone speaks to you be polite and respectful. Try to see the logic behind their argument, but don’t make the mistake of agreeing or disagreeing with them, especially when others are around. Never, ever say “I see your point.” because that is seen as a green light and everyone is told you agree with them. Sometimes it doesn’t occur to others that you can understand their point of view without agreeing with it.
We have to be smart when dealing with other people who are under no obligation to care for our feelings. Anything you say can, and will be, taken out of context or misinterpreted by someone and used against you. You may have only meant to lend an ear, but you make a near fatal error if you open your mouth. It’s difficult to say which is worse: poor communications or no communications, but both will destroy your organization. Try to keep things light, upfront and honest. Spare feelings when possible, but do not make it mandatory.
Maybe the Three Wise Monkeys have it right, but I don’t think so. John Lennon stated, “They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool.” So, open your mouth and be hated or be like the monkeys and be taken for a fool. Don’t be anyone’s dumb monkey!