One of the marked trends in our society is to abbreviate and make things concise. Even in our texting and written communication, we use short symbols for longer words, for example, 4u. We tend to abbreviate the names of companies, so that today we simply have IBM and KFC, and do not stop to think what these letters may have originally meant. We also use this trend in our relationships, because we do not take the time to say fully what we mean. The result of this is that we do not fully express what we want to say or how we feel, leaving the people with whom we communicate to guess and make their own interpretations. This is not always wise. Wrong communications could often elicit responses that are very different from what they are intended to do, leading to hurt feelings and damaged relationships. What is therefore important is to ensure that the message going from the sender to the receiver is received and interpreted in the way it was intended.
Be Clear in What We Want to Say
Speak plainly and do not attempt to save time by simply stating a word, and not takin the time to say what we mean by that. “Later” could mean that “later, we will meet”, “later we will speak” or simply “Until we connect again”. While this may not have serious consequences, a statement like “No bother” could mean “It is not a problem for me”, “Don’t do anything more” or depending on what we are talking about, it could mean that the issue is something that we need not address. What this suggests is that clarity of message is very important.
Make Sure Your Message is Well Understood
Even after the message is sent, care should be taken to ensure that the person with whom we communicated did understand the message that ws sent. This is particularly important if the person did not respond in the expected manner. It therefore makes sense to follow up with the person, for it is in this follow up that it may become clear that the message as we sent it was not properly communicated, and the person receiving the message did not understand what we wanted to say.
Communicating a Message Fully and in Opportune Time
There are times when we may have heard something communicated through the media and wanted to share it with a family member. In an example, a news report noted that in the flu season, it is vitally important that we pay close attention to washing our hands as soon as we enter our house or apartment in the bathrooms and not in our kitchen sinks. The explanation given was that any germs that we may have on our hands could be introduced into our diet if we wash our hands in our kitchen sinks where we wash our dishes. Jonathan, who has been accused of always correcting his wife or of ‘mansplaining’, announces as he and his wife enters their apartment that she should wash her hands in entry bathroom. His wife, Martha, who always washes her hands in the upstairs bathroom is angry because she sees this as another example of Jonathan’s mansplaining. Besides, she argued that she always washes her hands after coming in from outside.
A Different Time and a Different Message
Had Jonathan simply said to his wife at a later time that he had heard a news report about how the flu was being easily transmitted as people washed their hands in their kitchen sinks rather than in their bathrooms close to the entrance at their doorways, his wife would very likely not have taken this message as personally as she had done. Yet, she would have gotten the message that washing her hands closer to the door was a good option to cutting down on transmission of the flu germ.
Trivial and Non-Consequential?
While this may appear trivial and even non-consequential for some people, for Jonathan and Martha, this untimely and abbreviated communication caused them an unpleasant evening and some conflict because of misunderstanding with what was communicated.
Keywords: harmonious relations; communication; texting; handwashing; mansplaining