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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 02-Oct-06

 


Monday 02-Oct-06 

Cryptic conversation

I wear glasses and sometimes when my eyes get tired I don't see that well. So I discard the spectacles and just listen. In that out-of-focus state I am forced to do overtime with my ears, which is always good practice.

I was in a work meeting recently at the end of a long day when I did just that. And what started as a mark of tiredness became an interesting experiment as I listened to the conversation around me. I heard passion, aggression, fear and boredom, as people dueled and meandered.

Difficult subjects seemed to be a classic reason to veer off topic. I could hear the pauses and uncertain tone that preceded diversionary chit-chat. Likewise, pussyfooting and increased use of qualifying language was an indicator of uncomfortable communication.

Some cultures are direct and open when things are awkward, whilst others are terribly concerned with defending social position and preserving face.

I was brought up in South Wales, where you speak your mind, for not to do so is considered weak and lacking both personal courage and respect for others. In a move 100 miles East, I was shocked at the reserved home-counties English, where there were so many things one simply does not talk about, my dear. So I said less and listened more, which is probably a good thing anyway.

I still live in this foreign country but the natives are fascinating, so I am never bored. And what is most impressive of all is how they manage to speak volumes without really talking about the real issue at all.

Isn't communication wonderful?


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