“I thought you understood that”

How much understanding do we take for granted in our everyday communications? And/or transmitting information to an audience? I had reason to ask myself that today when I took the tram and it was wrongly marked. It seemed like the driver took it for granted that we all knew where we actually where going and that neither the directions, nor the stops needed to be showed or called correctly. It’s not too much asked to know your destination. But there are first time travellers and tourists too.

When I managed to verify that I was indeed going in the correct direction, I settled down to read a book on languages and culture “Through the Language Glass” of Guy Deutscher, and the combination made me think. How much do we take for granted that our audience understand when communicating with them?

I remember the first time I worked abroad, in Dublin, Ireland and the problems I faced then when it came to communicating. Situations very often caused by me not communicating in a way understood by the other party. Now, I have a thing with not wanting to sound arrogant nor demeaning when addressing someone. In every language I speak or to whatever size the audience. I was working as a software translator/localiser and I had never worked in a multi-lingual/cultural environment or abroad before. Often when I asked for a document to be processed it never happened. Until, I started to provide instructions which I found incredibly demeaning – they went something along these lines: “Here is a document that I’d like you to have a look at. You don’t need to put more than 20 – 30 minutes into it. Can you do that by tomorrow?”

I had been used to the opposite i.e. when I came with a document I got that answer, that the person in question could spend X amount of time and process it by so and so date.

Hence, I when I gave the same information, which by all means could be of interest for the person in question, I felt like I treated them like idiots. This is something I try to steer clear of as much as possible, and something I strongly feel we as communicators should avoid. But how do we avoid this? How can we best put forward a message without demeaning the audience? I mean today, I wouldn’t at all have minded knowing the direction of the tram or the stops. It certainly wouldn’t have made me feel demeaned in any way or form. But we can’t count on that our audiences always are in this friendly and receiving state of mind.

Am I complicating a simple situation of transmitting a piece of information, i.e. doing our jobs (at least part of it) or are these questions we should be asking ourselves in everything we do?

How much understanding do we take for granted in our everyday communications? And/or transmitting any information to an audience? I had reason to ask myself that today when I took the tram and it was wrongly marked. It seemed like the driver took it for granted that we all knew where we actually where going and that neither the directions, nor the stops needed to be showed or called correctly.

Am I complicating a simple situation of transmitting a piece of information, i.e. doing our jobs (at least part of it) or are these questions we should be asking ourselves in everything we do?

2 responses to ““I thought you understood that”

  1. Svenska

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    Gilla

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