Thursday, 5 February 2015


“No one would talk much in society, if he knew how often he misunderstands others.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Communication is a thorny topic. The most eloquent, intelligent, rational and verbose amongst us may have trouble with it when trying to converse even with someone who is sitting across the table from us. How much more difficult does it become when we are limited by time constraints, the medium of the electronic message and of course, distance and language limitations! It may be become even more complicated if one is trying to be tactful, diplomatic or discreet. The written message may become less clear and more convoluted through loss of intonation, facial expression, gesture… The opportunity for misunderstandings increases a thousand-fold.

St Exupéry said: “Words are the source of misunderstandings”, and yet words are our only weapon against misunderstandings also. How do we resolve situations where our words have been misconstrued? By using more words. Resolution of communication breakdown needs simple words, honesty and a genuine sense of wanting to clear up confusion. However, the situation becomes more vexing when words simply fail us. One may talk plainly, communicating lucidly what is in one's mind, but the recipient of that information may pass the words through a personal filter that is tinged with any colour of the perceptional or emotional rainbow, and thus construe a meaning completely different to that of the originator of the message.

Context is important when we are communicating and the social and psychological environment of the communicating persons need be kept in mind also. The simple word “love” can be uttered in such a bewildering variety of contexts that it can become a quagmire of communication breakdown. We love our spouse, love our parents, our children. We love pizza, love our country, love our friends, love going on holidays. We love playing games, we can score love in tennis, we can meet the love of our life, we make love, fall in love, fall out of love. Context matters.

Communication can be made difficult purposefully. We may choose to be deceptive in what we say or write. “No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.” Said Henry B. Adams. Words can be a fortress we hide in, words can be the fog that obscures our actions, words can be our defence or our offence. Words can be daggers that are thrust to maliciously wound and hurt. Words can be uttered in a facile way so that they flatter and fawn. Compliments and cajolery, blarney or sweet-talk, propaganda, can all get in the way of true communication. Rumi advises us: “Know that a word suddenly shot from the tongue is like an arrow shot from the bow. Son, that arrow won't turn back on its way; you must dam the torrent at its source.”

In the world of Blogland the failures of communication are manifold. We write our blogs, publish our blasts, show our pictures and we are the originators of messages that the world receives. Just like any other form of communication, blogging can create misunderstandings and can have consequences that range from the amusing to the dire. What we blog about and how we choose to do it can have an immense effect on other people that may be quite dramatic. What we choose to write about can heal or hurt, amuse or anger, attract or repel, inflame or influence, excite empathy or indifference. Our words can be balsam or poison.

There those amongst us who communicate with an open heart and an outstretched hand. We wish to share with others what we feel and experience, what we know and create. We honestly communicate such things so that we unite ourselves with those around the world that experience life in ways that we can recognise in fellowship. But just like in any other society, so in Blogland there are those that communicate abstrusely (whether willingly or subconsciously). There are those who mislead and deceive. Those who flatter and praise, who compliment and say the nicest things… For a while.

I speak plainly, and communicate what I feel. If I choose to write about something, I do it because I want to. If I choose to not talk about something I do so for a reason. I can only speak for myself and choose not relay others' voices or opinions. They can do that for themselves. My tact is genuine, for I do not wish to hurt anyone. If I am misconstrued, it is has not been my intention to be so. If what I say seems obscure, words are there to be used, ask for an explanation. If I can resolve misunderstandings, I will almost certainly do so.

Now, blog on!
Image above is by Isabelle Cardinal

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