The problem with communication... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
The Four Facets of Communication
I see four facets of verbal communication that have an impact on its effectiveness.
1 - What I intended to say
2 - The words I used
3 - The words the listener heard
4 - What the listener thought I said
What I Intended to Say
This could be very simple, but mostly what we say is not as simple as we might think. As an example, I might say “it's time for lunch”. There is a lot of meaning in this that is not conveyed simply by the words. I always have a hot lunch, but you may not know that. When I say it's time for lunch, I haven't made it clear that this means I want to eat hot food within a few minutes rather than maybe within a couple of hours. What I think I have conveyed with these few words is largely dependent on my world picture.
The Words I Used
These are just a representation of what I intended to say. Words are never a perfect representation of the intended message, since they are hampered by both the limitations of the language, and the speaker's command of the language. I choose the words based on my experience of what I think it would take to convey what I intended to say. If I am talking to someone face to face, then I also have body language information that I have conveyed to the recipient, whether I am aware of it or not. If I am using a phone, or a video-conference, then some dimensions of the body language are lost, and if I am using written word, then most of the dimensions of body language are lost (but not all – think about such aspects as the exact timing of when you convey the written words).
The Words the Listener Heard
Normally we like to think this is exactly the same as the words I used. Unfortunately it frequently happens that someone hears something different from what was said. This can happen due to background noise, unclear speaking, conflicting body language, listeners expectations and many other causes.
What the Listener Thought I Said
The listener heard certain words, but the way they interpret them, and hence the message that they receive, is coloured by their world view. It is very likely that whoever you are talking to will have a different world view than you, and the more different their world view, the more likelihood there is of a misunderstanding.
As a writer these facets of communication affect me in two basic ways. Firstly the written word, as much as speech, is subject all four facets, and this can easily lead to the reader getting something different from my writing than intended.
Secondly I can use these facets to bring some spice to the dialoge between my characters. This can be surprisingly difficult to do, but if done well, can lead to some intriguing situations in the story.
The 'Four Facets of Communication' is an extract from my non-fiction ms 'Balancing Act'