May 31, 2011

Art of Communicating - Not Assuming

By Leesa Ostrander

Human communication is the process of sharing messages, both verbal and nonverbal. A few basics about communication from a studious standpoint are: communication needs to make sense, share  xperience, create meaning, and is about the messages sent.

The practice and refining of communication is the art and the skill of being a great communicator. Not everyone is a great communicator. Some people are great at writing, others at controlling anger, and some speaking what they don’t mean.

I am still practicing, all of them.

My current lesson in communicating is not assuming. I assume when I say something it is heard and the other person will react.

The other day my babysitter called and asked what time to come over, she had received a text from my husband that we needed her at 7 pm. I told her 7pm would be good since his flight came in at 7:30 pm. At 6:45 pm she called and asked what time I needed her.

Well, deep pause, 7:00 pm is still a good time.

She was frustrated and said I told her 7:30 pm and now she was going to miss a bar-b-que.

She arrived at 7:00 and said “You’re not ready.”

My response was, “No, but I still need you here.”

The overall evaluation of the situation can be read in a book long saga of where this communication broke down. I did not hear what she was asking in the first phone call, she may have wanted a different response in the second phone call and our third contact had a built in barrier where we were not effective.

This example shows how a small misunderstanding causes frustration and breakdown in the intended message sent. This is also true in writing.

When writing a story, poem, email or note to your child’s teacher the message being sent on the paper still needs to have the basics of communicating. In a story if it is missing one element the reader will become confused and frustrated at not understanding and not knowing necessarily what is missing. If in a query letter the reader will dismiss the letter and move on.

A lesson for the week is improving the art of communication and not assuming that what is said and being received is the same thing. It is more about reading the symbols/words and making sure it is what you want to be understood.


  1. It's a tough call.I always thought I was a great communicator but no that's really true.

  2. Great post, Leesa. Thank you! There are so many facets to the art of communication. There seem to be quite a few barriers...and I think the biggest hurdle is that we all create our own reality as we are each in a unique position in this life; physically, spiritually, and mentally.
    I too have trouble realizing that what I say is not always heard and/or understood.


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