Thursday, August 9, 2012

We are always communicating...

Are you an observer? When I travel, one of my favorite opportunities to watch human dynamics and communication in real time is to observe my surroundings. You learn about how different people manage stress in the same situation.

For example, when the luggage comes down the conveyor belt and people are patiently (or not) waiting for their bags to make their way to them, watch the reactions on faces as time passes, or their bags don’t show up. One gentleman laughed and said “Excellent! I needed a shopping trip on someone else’s dime.” Another kicked his cart and stomped off to the customer service desk and spoke so loudly and aggressively we could hear amidst all the airport noise.

Another way to learn about people is to listen. Listen to what is being said, how the message is being communicated and the reaction of the person on the receiving end of the message.

One stressed parent said to their tired child “if you don’t pull it together, I am leaving you here and we’ll go see grandma without out” (note the child was about four years old). Another parent said to their tired and agitated child “let’s count all the people with flip flops to pass the time”, took out a note pad and started tracking answers then said “I am really enjoying our time together right now and how well behaved you are. Thank you!”

And a third way to learn is just by enjoying the conversations occurring around you. And sometimes you hear things you just don't want to hear ….this is what the lady next to me said on the airplane. ”Can I borrow a Kleenex to blow my nose”

Communication is interesting, and just because we are talking doesn't mean others are understanding our message clearly.  Saying what you mean, and meaning what you say is an art and a science. Thinking through the message before voicing it is a great place to start.

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