Nov 13, 2014

Communication – Bypassing

What’s it like when you know you’ve clearly shared an idea to another person and they:
Don’t seem to understand
Respond in an unexpected way
Interpret what you said differently than what you intended

Communication is used every day and, therefore, we take it for granted. We regularly miscommuncate and we wonder how other people just don’t understand what we shared with them. And, we don’t understand how other people can so poorly communicate with us. What’s wrong with them?!

I’m writing a series of blogs and newsletters on the subject of Communication to help people get clarity on how to increase the effectiveness of their daily communication and increase their personal power. This is the first installment and it’s on the specific part of communication called “Bypassing”.

We operate under the assumption that words have only one usage when we forget that words have more than one meaning.
• For the 500 of the most commonly used words in our language there is aggregate of over 14,000 dictionary definitions!
• Regional variations and technical jargon encountered daily compound this conundrum.
• How many times have you been unable to understand medical terminology used by a physician?
• Do conversations with a plumber and car mechanic make any more sense?
• How many people can follow the political jargon used to debate the national debt?

We can miss each other’s meanings because we forget that words only have the meanings a person gives them. So, the meaning is in the person! Words are just meaningless variables until someone makes the variable concrete and chooses to interpret the words in a particular way. It’s like comedian George Carlin said:
Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words. I like to think that the same words that hurt can heal. It’s a matter of how you pick them.

Here are some examples of how people can choose to change the meanings of words:
Euphemism: an inoffensive or positive word or phrase used to avoid a harsh, unpleasant, or distasteful reality

What would you prefer to hear your doctor say:
“I’m going to take this knife and cut your skin open, then rip open your rib cage with a machine to get to your heart and clean all the fat out of your arteries that’s causing you to be in pain”


“What I’ll do is take a scalpel and make an incision, then, we’ll spread the thoracic cage to access the arteries containing the arteriosclerosis that causing the discomfort”?

Jargon: the specialized language of a trade, profession, or similar group
Gobbledygook: a matter of piling on of words, of overwhelming the audience with words, the bigger the words and the longer the sentences the better
Inflated language: designed to make the ordinary seem extraordinary; to make everyday things seem impressive; to give an importance to people, situations, or things that would not normally be considered important; to make the simple seem complex

So, what can you do to correct this daily problem of “Bypassing”?
Be person-minded, not word-minded — Disagree with the dictionary and agree with the person’s background.
Query & paraphrase — Summarize a speaker and then ask clarifying questions.
Be approachable — Be open to verbal and nonverbal feedback.
Be sensitive to contexts — Be mindful of the situation in which the word was used.

All of these tips will go a long way to helping you get the response you desire from the words you use to communicate.

Be sure to anticipate forthcoming articles on increasing the effectiveness of your communication and, as a result, your personal power.

(The information contained in the posts and newsletters on “Communication” are taken from my training titled “Stealth Communication” which is available to organizations that desire to increase their overall effectiveness and productivity. Contact me for details.)

Creating life in forward motion,

Dr. Edward Lewellen