Remember that game of catch?
Imagine it with a lump of clay.
As each person touches it, they shape it to fit their own unique perceptions based on any number of variables,
like knowledge or past experience, age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or family background.
Simultaneously, every person interprets the message they receive based on their relationship with the other person,
and their unique understanding of the semantics and connotations of the exact words being used.
They could also be distracted by other stimuli, such as traffic or a growling stomach.
Even emotion might cloud their understanding, and by adding more people into a conversation,
each with their own subjectivities, the complexity of communication grows exponentially.
So as the lump of clay goes back and forth from one person to another, reworked, reshaped, and always changing,
it's no wonder our messages sometimes turn into a mush of miscommunication.
But, luckily, there are some simple practices that can help us all navigate our daily interactions for better communication.
One: recognize that passive hearing and active listening are not the same.
Engage actively with the verbal and nonverbal feedback of others, and adjust your message to faciliate greater understanding.
Two: listen with your eyes and ears, as well as with your gut.
Remember that communication is more than just words.
Three: take time to understand as you try to be understood.
In the rush to express ourselves, it's easy to forget that communication is a two-way street.
Be open to what the other person might say.
And finally, four: Be aware of your personal perceptual filters.
Elements of your experience, including your culture, community, and family, influence how you see the world.
Say, "This is how I see the problem, but how do you see it?"
Don't assume that your perception is the objective truth.
That'll help you work toward sharing a dialogue with others to reach a common understanding together.