Hidden Barriers to Communication
“When you are an artist, seeing isn’t so simple. Most of the time we look at things with only part of our attention. We see what we expect to see, and every image is cloaked with labels we’ve been taught to attach to the world around us…This habit of not really paying attention keeps us from really looking at things…” ~E. Kincaid
An artist needs to create what he really sees, not what he thinks he sees. We need to learn from artists and become creative in our
ability to genuinely communicate with others. Genuine dialogue is a form of art.
Why is communication so difficult? Why does it seem that in every relationship we eventually feel misunderstood or hurt? It feels like it is inevitable…why? What can I do to really be able to connect in my communication with others?
Like the artist, we need to learn to focus and really pay attention. So much of the time we hear or listen through our own worldview. I am beginning to realize that we really do not ‘hear’ other individuals, let alone understand them. We all speak our own unique language that is spoken and heard through our individual worldview. We understand things from the perspective of our gender, upbringing, our strengths, our unresolved hurts…etc. What could happen if we would stop and realize that in order to hear our fellow man we must work to see through their perspective before we respond? Can we believe that the intentions of our fellow man could be good, even though they are different than us? We will never find anyone who is totally like us; God made us unique so that we can compliment each other. Taking a look at our various different worldview lenses and gaining a understanding of these diverse perspectives will enhance our ability cross these language barriers and really communicate.
Actually the first step in being able to have any kind of dialogue each individual must be willing to admit that they are limited in their perspective. No one knows everything and no one is always right; we all need to be learners no matter how convinced we are about our ‘correct’ worldview. We must listen to learn, not to merely prove we are right. Genuine dialogue is almost impossible unless people are adult in their outlook.
Emotional development is a vital aspect that is often overlooked when trying to bridge gaps in communication. Unresolved hurts can cloud one’s objectivity and clarity in what is being heard from another individual. When one is still angry with their mother for some reason, they can impose that perspective on the woman they are trying to communicate with. A person can also be stuck at a young developmental stage if they have not emotionally grown into age appropriate behavior. For example, an individual who never felt valued by his parents as a child may find himself being a people pleaser, and never fully feeling adult in his relationships. This will deeply affect his communication perspectives.
Every individual has their own unique strengths. We all have areas that we are better at than others. Our natural talents need to be
recognized for their unique benefit. In his recent bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Tom Rath claims that recognizing your strengths will not only change the way that you live your own life, but will also change how you look at the world around you. Understanding and respecting the variety of strengths in ourselves and of others helps us to work together in a complementary way, rather that compare and compete. Differing personalities can also be seen in the same respect. Each person has their own innate personality creating differing identities. Having a working understanding of the variety of personalities can help when trying to appreciate differing worldviews.
Individuals also are dominated in their thinking process by either their left brain or their right brain. How they handle information can be distinctively different. The left brain tends to be more analytical and disciplined, while the right is more creative and flowing. Take, for example, a left-brained person is able to easily organize their life, their desk, etc. It comes naturally to think in an order or pattern. Compare them to a right brained individual and you will find one who is naturally intuitive and lets their life be managed by the feelings they have in the moment. They are strong in sensing the need of the moment rather than what it next on the list. Both types of individuals are needed; neither is better than the other.
Gender is another worldview that needs to be recognized and understood. Each sex has a unique perspective that is both valid and valuable. John Gray points out the vast differences between male and female in his classic book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. He felt that men and women have such different needs and expectations that they may as well be from different planets. For example, men offer solutions, while women seek to improve. Women are more relational and men focus on ideas. Practically understanding how genders differ would be vital in communication between the sexes.
The culture that one grew up in can also be a core factor in how one views the world. It is common knowledge that ethnic diversity must be considered when seeking any type of consensus. Cultural mores can be foundational to ones perspective of right and wrong, respectful behavior and permissible activities, to name a few. Culture also relates to the family environment that an individual grew up in. Family rules, whether stated or implied, can form a person’s worldview. The influence of birth order among siblings has also been found to be formative of adult relational expectations.
Historians agree that each generation has it own set of values, perspectives, etc. Even though generational cycles repea themselves, every generation has its own unique worldview. Problems between parents and children often are caused by misunderstandings because of this. For example, the rebels of the 60’s find it difficult to comprehend their parents’ conformist values formulated through the WWII effort. Unless one is able to realize and respect the generational perspective of an individual it will be difficult to grasp the intended communication.
All these different factors can have a significant influence in our perception of one another. These variables all play an important part in creating our own unique worldview. When we are able to respect and understand one another’s perspective we can begin hear each other’s ‘language’ and really see the other person. Real dialogue can happen; we can begin to actually communicate with one another.
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De Victoria, J. (2012). Hidden Barriers to Communication. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/03/08/hidden-barriers-to-communication/