Friday, October 26, 2007

Hearing & Understanding

Came upon this Wiki-How at the bottom of this Wiki-How. This piece of advice was also a link. A thread of mis-understanding, I guess.

All three communication advisories shared the following common points.
1) Keep your sentence structure simple.
2) Look in the person's eyes when you're listening or speaking.
3) Stay calm.
4) Be patient.
5) Smile.

I'd add one more.
6) Breath.
It will help you with points #1 and #3.

All common sense, you'd assume. But, think of your daily communications (an easy task for us introverts as we can number them off on our fingers and still have a whole hand left..or is that right?). How often do you leave the verbal exchange with minimal forward progress on the topics discussed? Work, home, social events, doesn't matter. Maybe it's just an introvert's take on the matter. If one has minimal verbal exchanges a greater level of importance is attached to the events. An extrovert would be having these exchanges from the time their morning head rise from the pillow until the night time head drop back. While their % of meaningful conversations may be the same as an introvert's, the number of meaningful conversations is much higher. As in baseball, averages can cloak the activity level.

When traveling, I tend to pay more attention to the mundanities in the place that I'm visiting than to those same mundanities in the place that I'm living.
(Short aside here: What's up with the word mundanity? One definition of the word is "The quality or character of being intellectually sophisticated and worldly through cultivation or experience or disillusionment" and another is its opposite, "The quality of being commonplace and ordinary").

Back to the topic.
On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I had a chance to experience quite a few no-no's from this list. More specifically,
Point #2 Recognize that people wrongly think that turning up the volume somehow creates instant understanding. Avoid this common mistake.
I had treble luck.
1) I was a foreigner (Croatian and from Delaware)
2) I have graying hair, signifying I don't dye my hair and I'm over 40.
3) I hum, at times, in a tone that most exemplifies White Noise, thus thwarting any vocal missles launched my way.

I'm sure our waitress had goodness in her heart but she was dealing with me, an atrociously critical customer (well, viewed as such by my family). I was actually in a very positive mood. The October weather was July-like. The outdoor seating was covered by a canopy that softly snapped with each waft of cool air blowing in on us. The sun was shining brightly causing passing pedestrians to squint and duck their heads while we sat in the shade, eyes wide-open. Barbecued meat smells lingered and extra-cold beers sat in tall chilled glasses on our table. Life was good and a fine meal was anticipated.
My camera bag sat opened on the chair next to me. Some brochures of museums and sites poked their titles out of the bag. The waitress came by and saw all the tourist/foreigner sights and proceeded to bellow. My humming stopped; I cocked my head at the source. She was a tall glass of water and a loud torrent of words poured from her. She, being turned to high volume, expected comprehension and compensatory ordering action on my part. I, being swallowed in the thundering mass of words, struggled to catch my breath and to shield my ears. I mumbled something, nothing that I understood nor obviously she as she came back shortly with some fish-like product. My ever-loving wife, flashing her extrovert credentials, ordered something and received the same thing. I treated my meal like chum, hoping it would catch something delectable but, alas, no bite on the bait so no bite for me.
I will hone my Pittsburghese and stretch my facial muscles for the next time. When I'm back'air, it'll be a can a corn to order eats ovedder.

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