Communication is Hard

As a person who works in branding and communication, I should be more aware that perception is everything.

...which is why communication is hard.

Communication with a partner, spouse, friend, client, etc. is all about perception, that is, "What does this person perceive that I'm saying?"

Last night, I flippantly "spoke my mind" to my dude-friend. I was pretty sure I had spoken clearly with the right amount of humor to diffuse the frustration I was feeling in the moment.

The frustration had nothing to do with him. I've found lately that I've been having trouble "multi-tasking" (a thing that studies have shown again and again to not really contribute to productivity at all). It's like instead of having an eagle-eye view of everything that's going on in a given moment, I'm much more like a kid who's gotten lost in a busy mall.

It's utterly overwhelming, and frustrating, and I kind of want to sit down and kick and scream and cry and demand ice cream for dinner.

Last night was one of those moments. And the sad thing is, the "multi-tasking" had nothing to do with unpleasant tasks...it was just one of those things where everything piled up at once (dinner! Texting with a friend about plans next week! Feeding the dogs!), and instead of being a normal human being and taking a breath and tackling one thing at a time, I devolved into Kid Throwing Tantrum in the Mall.

At least, internally.

(It probably would have been better if I had just said right then, "Hey, I'm feeling overwhelmed. Can I have a minute?" Yeah...that.)

So when the time came to shut off for the evening, instead of me, well, shutting off, I fired off with a simple phrase.

Here's what I thought I said:

Good fellow, would you mind terribly if I just took a moment to sit and collect my scattered thoughts and take a breather, good sir, jolly ho, British accents make everything better!

Here's what he heard:

GAWD, can I just SIT FOR A SECOND like a NORMAL PERSON and ENJOY MY WINE?!?!

That's not un-friendly at all, right? Or "I have problems with alcoholism" sounding, right?

Right?

Anyway, his communication skills were better than mine. At least, the look on his face said it all: "Good god, she's finally lost it...and now I will probably be maimed and killed and my body hidden forever. Goodbye, cruel world."

So yeah...guess I better work on that.

I really liked these posts by Melissa McEwan on harmful communication (and which go WAY deeper than this post...great reads...so get 'em!), and why, for example, it's important to not say phrases like, "I'm sorry IF I hurt your feelings," because honestly? It doesn't matter what your INTENT was. So what if if you didn't MEAN to hurt someone's feelings...if the outcome is still hurt feelings, you should probably apologize for hurting feelings.

Anyway, I could ramble more...I guess I just wanted to share what I was learning.

Final note: It's crazy to think I'm STILL learning this shit. Geez.