I was reminded of this fact after watching the Golden Globe awards show. The response to Ricky Gervais was equally divided among my friends. Those my age or older thought he was mean and rude and shouldn’t be asked back. Those a generation younger thought he was absolutely hilarious and right on the money. “After all,” said one, “surely Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp knew they were in a boring movie that didn’t deserve being nominated for anything!”
Now, on most counts, these friends are quite similar. They are all educated. They are all middle-class. They all have nice respectable jobs. Their only difference is age.
So once again, I’m reminded of how difficult communication is. We bring so many things with us to any conversation: our age, our background, our politics, our religion, our sensitivity or lack of. In fact, it may not be a wonder that there are so many miscommunications. It may be more of a wonder that we ever communicate at all 🙂
Last summer, I saw on Facebook that a friend of mine was working a concert in Florida. I didn’t recognize one of the names (and still don’t). When I was told that it was a conservative radio announcer, I said, “Oh, no wonder then.” My friend, on the other side of the table, became prickly, “What do you mean by that?” She is a conservative and I’m a liberal, and it was pretty obvious from her tone and body language that she was prepared for some snarky comment about conservatives.
When I answered, “I don’t listen to radio,” she visibly relaxed. Her psychic shields came down, and we had a perfectly pleasant evening. But if we can wander so quickly into misunderstandings with people we’ve known for years, how much easier is it to misinterpret those we barely know at all.
Your motivator for this week: Take some time to really understand what people are saying.