Communication skills – We understand that we do not understand

“The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point.” – G.G. Márquez

And then we started to try to describe our own experience with language and that is what we do to this day, we try. Communication skills remain the means by which we understand and we do not understand each other.

When we want to describe the picture of our inner world to someone else or communicate abstract ideas or our personal experiences and interpretations of the world around us, we use language. Communication skills suddenly gain importance. Language gives us enormous freedom but it also limits us, not by limiting our thoughts, but limiting those thoughts we share in the right way to others, usually in two ways:

The words we speak can be absolutely inadequate to describe our thoughts

For other people, the words we say can have a completely different meaning, because other people have a completely different experience than us.

Have you ever seen something happen and later in conversation with people who were present at the same place realized that you have experienced what was happening there in a completely different way. Almost as if you were not in the same place at the same time together. What we noticed was completely different from what other people observed and therefore the feeling we have attached to this event was completely different from the feelings of others. Sorry, were we in the same place? and Where do you get that from? are often a questions we ask when trying to tell a story together. This depends on how we use our communication skills.

Whose communication skills are not sufficient? Who is right?

Of course … no one completely.

Let us remember the famous anecdote about Nikola Pašić:

Nikola Pašić was supposed to rule in disputes between two radicals. He invites first, listens carefully, and says to him:

– You are correct, sir!

Receives the other, listens to him carefully, and he says:

– You are correct, sir!

The secretary who was there asked, not being able to keep his question for himself:

– But, Mr. President, how could you tell both of them they are right? It makes no sense!

Pašić stroked his beard and said:

– Boy, you’re right too!

We would say that it is precisely Pašić’s communication skills and understanding of the people that helped him stay at the top of the political leadership in turbulent times.

Communication skills and reality

We do not actually know what the reality is and when we refer to something as real that’s just our assumption about the world around us, and the information we have comes from our senses, which have a very limited range of observation. We observe things we consider significant for us at the time. If we do not believe that communication skills are important, the reality has only one dimension for us.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming explores how our thoughts (Neuro) through the words we speak (Linguistic or Communication skills) lead us to action (Programming).

Basically, we can only guess which small part of the world we have seen and we assume is there, beyond our sensory perception there is a huge world of various information, which we are not able to notice. So, we create our reality from our sensory experience and that is our absolute truth and our view of the world. Come on, let’s face it, now this takes on a whole different meaning.

Then, when we are sure of the facts, in an undeniable truth that we observed with our senses, we speak of it as a reality. And it is a reality for us.

And then we’re not stopping there, instead we try to put our experience, our reality into words and then at least three misunderstandings occur due to the direction in which our communication skills may be lacking:

Where does the lack of communication skills lead?

We translate our experience into words, and what we get is only an incomplete reflection. We often think that our experience is the same as our words, and the language we use to describe it. We are our communication skills.

We think that other people share our assumptions and therefore we will miss important parts of our message, assuming that they already know what we know. This can confuse other people, although we had no intent to deceive them.

We completely misunderstand other people because we fill in the gaps they leave using their communication skills the best they can and unaware of the imperfection of language, with our own experience. We often think that because we share the same language we also share the same experience. When using words we erase a large part of our experience, as communication is too slow and incomplete for all the information to be conveyed just with language, so we have to choose, which means that we have to leave out many things. In this way we give greater weight to some elements and minimize some other aspects.

To better understand other people, the world around us, the interpretations we ourselves have that will very likely differ greatly from other people’s point of view, it would be really useful to have all of this in mind when we notice that communication is going in an undesirable direction. It’s important to expand our view of the world by sharpening our senses and be flexible enough to accept the worldview of other people. To improve our communication skills and in that way accurately convey our message. To improve and grow and be the best version of ourselves. Also, let’s be aware of communication skills or clumsiness of others. We are all at least partly right and that’s why everything is ok.

Jelena Kantar Kostić
NLP Master Trainer