I was out cycling last week. As I waited at the traffic lights, a car pulled up beside me. It was one of those. The kind where you hear the pulsing, vibrating, jaw-droppingly loud beat of the music playing within, long before you become aware of the car itself. Even with the windows closed the music seemed to rock the car with its very beat.
Now I know it’s a generalisation and I say myself that we should avoid those. But in these circumstances you generally jump to the conclusion that the driver will be some young lad. Out to impress the ladies. And working hard on destroying his hearing, so he’ll need a hearing aid by the time he’s 50. But no. It was a middle-aged woman in a rust bucket, ancient Skoda, playing terrible middle of the road traditional Danish music!
In the back was a poor little white dog who, by the desperate, panic-stricken look on his face, seemed to be trying to get out the back window to get away from the ear-bending noise!
It made me think about people who walk around in life totally oblivious to many of the signals coming from the world around them. They’re so lost in their world, and the ‘music’ or dialogue going on inside their heads, that they don’t see, hear or feel the signals coming from other people. Critical signals that tell you whether your communication has been understood or lost in translation… After all, the meaning of any communication is actually the response you get.
If you’re talking to someone and it feels like their mouth is moving, but the words don’t make sense, then try this out:
- Switch off that running dialogue in your head, stop planning the next thing you want to say and or what you’re making for dinner.
- Don’t just listen – let yourself absorb the information through all of your senses. Look at their body language, listen to the tone, tempo and timbre of their voice, listen to their words and feel what they’re trying to say.
- Calibrate – watch, listen for and feel any subtle changes as they speak.
If you’re not talking to someone, but instead you’re sitting alone at your desk or perhaps walking down the street. Try this out to reconnect to the world around you:
- Appreciate something visual that you can see – the colour of the sky, the design of a light on your desk or curve of a leaf.
- Next appreciate something you can hear – the birds singing, the wind rustling the leaves, or even the buzz of the traffic.
- Finally appreciate something you can feel – the wind on your face, the sensation of the colour of your coat against your neck or perhaps the weight of the rucksack on your back.
- Now repeat again with a visual, something you hear and something you feel.
- How relaxed and connected do you feel to the world now?
How sensitive are you to what other people are really trying to communicate?
© Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jacqui Gatehouse and GATEHOUSE THIRTEEN with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.