Understanding the Use of Language
Understanding the Use of Language
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Understanding comes from listening and relating, recognising and evaluating. It has never been a given in human endeavour. One person could talk for half and hour and another person not understand a word. How we express ourselves and in what terms decides whether we will be understood. Communication is the backbone of any relationship, regardless of what that is. It defines who we are as seen by another person and the understanding gained is the basis of common ground shared.
Sometimes language is poorly constructed, uses ambiguous terms or phrases and is not understood, or what’s worse misunderstood. In personal relationships involving emotions, misunderstanding is rife. When emotional issues are on the line, there can be a subconscious undertone that relays feelings not verbally expressed. Sarcasm is one such tool. Often none too subtle this form of communication can be biting and offensive. It’s what is not said that is effective, delivering an often serious effrontery in the guise of a light-hearted joke.
Couples particularly have an arsenal of verbal weaponry, used as the circumstance requires. I passed a middle-aged couple in the supermarket the other day. As I passed, the woman said the man’s name in such a way that it made my heart stop momentarily. Behind this poor man’s name was a biochemical warhead about to explode. The man then passed me, pushing the trolley and wearing a bored, blank expression. If he didn’t do what he was supposed to there would be hell to pay. Who would think uttering a man’s name could communicate all this?
Having spent some much time together couples can develop a subtle and often complex communication using little or no language, sometimes just facial expressions do the job. This comes from experience and understanding each other. Before this, we are all subject to the same levels of misunderstanding when dealing with potential partners.
So what dictates our expertise with language and communication? Education and upbringing for a start, decides the tools we have at our disposal. Beyond that it is our experiences in dealing with people both in the work environment and in your social life. Experience can breed confidence and a learned ability to use language to acquire what we need. Everything, from asking mum for a sandwich when you’re a kid, to asking a colleague for some assistance in a work project, is based on this ability.
Knowing the right manner, tone, right choice of words and etiquette can improve the chances of a positive response. So it is this criterion that we must learn to be successful in the world, on every level of communication.
Communication is selling ideas, worded in such a way that it is both understood and agreeable. It’s like saying ‘Get that hammer will ya?’ Or ‘Excuse me Tom, would you mind passing me the hammer please?’ Which would you agree to?
Language can be so subtle and how we express ourselves the difference between success and failure. It is therefore prudent to be aware of how we speak and what we are saying. Making ourselves clear and precise can only improve our relationships, whatever they are.
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