How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it) - Katherine Hampsten
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At the heart of human communication is the question of how we create meaning. A basic consideration of this process asks what message is being communicated to whom. The transactional model helps us to visualize the many moving parts that comprise human interaction. This model demonstrates that communication is an ongoing process. We co-construct meaning together as we use feedback to exchange ideas.
An important part of this process is the willingness to listen to what is being communicated. Active listening is different than hearing, because listening requires effort to focus and understand. Listening is also different from agreeing with the message. It is particularly difficult to listen when we disagree with the message, because we tend to put up defensive walls that block the message from being received. When we listen, we pay attention not only to the words spoken, but also to the other person’s tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, and emotions.
We communicate in a variety of contexts and through different channels. The setting and medium affect how we receive and interpret the message being communicated. For example, you may be more open to discussing a problem with your best friend when you are leisurely meeting for coffee, rather than when you are texting as you rush off to work. The basic idea may be the same, but the way that you understand and respond to it will likely be different in each case. If the issue is important to your relationship, then choosing to talk face-to-face when you are unhurried and focused may lead to a richer conversation.
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