Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"What I Meant Was Something Else"

Communication covers a universe of theories and emotional stuff with results that may confirm, affirm or deny the original intent. When the striped-pants crowd says things like, "deeply troubling" its diplomatese for somebody is in deep doggy do a bit before starting sanctions or bombs falling on other nations. Diplomats have an exact language and say words conveying dual dire meanings which sound innocuous, but they really just SHOUTED in Internet speak. It takes time and patience to understand, acknowledge and mirror back for confirmation the nuances that derive a nations policies and positions. No wonder a good number of Nobel Peace Prizes have gone to those beleaguered few engaged in diplomacy on the Israel & Palestine issue.

Organizations set up communication departments or teams to translate business/mission speak for their employees. Dilbert mocks the majority of those efforts every day. Today's media gorges on entertainment "news" focusing its trite communication efforts there because its a money maker. Rudy Giuliani gets credit for communicating effectively during 9/11 and failing grades when he panders to an audience, overstating how long he participated at Ground Zero. Same subject matter, but the reason for communicating changed.

At the individual level, we may need just a wee bit more moments of silence, or not. We have a a family values Idaho senator explaining he was not guilty today after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct a couple of months ago, after miscommunication his intentions of why he was in the airport's bathroom stall. We have a verbally challenged president having a hissy fit because his loyal aide de camp must exit the Justice department on the wings of shame, while Bush undermines his own credibility by conflating Iraq and 9/11 once again confusing his message. In the glare of the lights a Miss South Carolina gives an amazingly dumb answer is still being talked about today. She gave it another go on morning television.

During last week's pageant, Miss Teen South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton was asked why one-fifth of Americans couldn't find USA on a map.

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps," she said tentatively.

She also made random references to South Africa, "Asian countries" and "the Iraq", and said they needed support from the American educational system.

Upton told South Carolina's The State newspaper she "completely misunderstood" the question and "didn't do anything wrong". "I wasn't expecting (the question). I lost my train of thought."

Ah, the essence of communication - sometimes you have it - sometimes you don't.

Here is a very short cool personal test to see how you communicate.

One of my all time favorite great books on communicating is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson et al.

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