What the Psychology of Communication
wants to know about you!

Why the Psychology of Communication concerns you!

Psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes. When it studies communication, some of the things it wants to know are how we feel when we put our thoughts together and what behaviors we employ when we express those thoughts.

It also wants to know how the person with whom we share our thoughts reacts when they read what we write, hear what we say, or observe how we behave.

By collecting answers to these questions, the psychology of communication hopes to discover ways to improve the way we communicate so that we can work together in ways that help us reach our goals.

Unlike psychologists, our goal is usually not to find better ways to communicate when our conversations and interactions with friends and co-workers go off the rails. We’re not interested in adjusting our vocabulary or modifying our position or listening more intently .

What we normally want to know is what is wrong with other person. How could they have so completely missed our point? What kind of mental gymnastics did they perform to twist a simple question or an innocent comment into a personal insult?

The intent of our question is to fix the blame for the communication breakdown.

The assumption underlying our question is that the listener or reader reacted as they did because they misinterpreted our message.The fault lies with them, not with us.

"What insight does the Psychology of Communication reveal"?

Ordinarily we conclude their misunderstanding was due to a personal defect. They misinterpreted our message because they were inattentive or are hopelessly close minded, insecure, thickheaded, stupid, or genetically limited.

What we don’t do is ask the same question of ourselves. We don’t ask ourselves what we were thinking and doing that may have contributed to the other person’s inability to understand what we were talking about.

If we did ask this question, the possibility exists that some of the responsibility for the communication breakdown may fall on us. That is an assumption we are too often unwilling to consider.

Looking for someone to blame when communication breaks down is usually a waste of time. Engaging in the blame game often makes matters worse.

"What is another insight"?

Research in the psychology of communication shows that no matter how clearly we formulate and express our thoughts, others will always interpret our words or behavior in a way that differs from our interpretation, if only slightly.

Everyone has a background and a set of experiences unlike ours. Everything they hear or read or see gets run through those experiences so that their interpretation of events always differs from our interpretation. Moreover, their interpretation is not available to us unless they choose to share it with us.

If we want to communicate effectively, we need to assume before we communicate that our messages will not be perfectly clear to others. After we have delivered our message, we need to focus our attention on discovering how others interpret what we said or wrote. We need to ask them what they understood, then work to clarify any misunderstandings.

This kind of attention requires strong listening and attending skills.

What actions can we take?

If the reason why we communicate is always to get others to help us keep our commitments, we need to develop these skills. Otherwise they may take actions we prefer they didn’t take which will put our commitments at risk.

How much effort do you put into finding out how others understand what you have to say? What fears do you have that interfere with your ability to listen to the opinions of those who disagree with you?

How self-aware are you of your need to blame friends and co-workers for misunderstandings that come up among you?

Learn effective communication skills to help you take care of things that are important to you in your home, in the workplace, and in your business. Making clear bold promises, effective requests, and compelling offers are among the most important skills.

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