How miscommunication happens (and how to avoid it)
Don’t assume that your perception is the objective truth
Katherine Hampsten, a speaker, author, and teacher focused on organizational communication and work/life optimization, has an interesting TED video available on youtube where she talks about how miscommunication happens. This article is written based on the view shared in the video.
Have you ever talked with a friend about a problem only to realize that he just doesn’t seem to grasp why the issue is so important to you? Have you ever presented an idea to a group and it is met with utter confusion? Or maybe you’ve been in an argument when the other person suddenly accuses you of not listening to what they’re saying at all? What’s going on here?
Katherine Hampsten, the speaker of TED-Ed tries to put forward the views of miscommunication starting with the most common and situational questions as stated above. As mentioned in the TED-Ed video, the answer to those questions is ultimately miscommunication, which in some form or another, we’ve all experienced it. It can lead to confusion, animosity, misunderstanding, or even crashing a multimillion-dollar probe into the surface of Mars. Interestingly, the fact is, even when conversing with another person face-to-face, in the very same room, and speaking the same language, human communication is incredibly complex.
We can’t deny the fact Hampsten stated in the video as miscommunication happens every day. For instance, an employee of one reputed organization straightforwardly mentioned working way too much for the benefits that have been given to him; however, he simply meant being undervalued and underpraised for the work that he has been performing. And, while trying to make it more clear the situation turned out more complex. This is a cyclical process, it keeps revolving. We just require to figure out the loopholes and solve them accordingly.
With that being said, there’s definitely good news. According to Hampsten, a basic understanding of what happens when we communicate can help us prevent miscommunication. For decades, researchers have asked, “What happens when we communicate?”One interpretation, called the transmission model, views communication as a message that moves directly from one person to another, similar to someone tossing a ball and walking away. But in reality, this simplistic model doesn’t account for communication’s complexity. It enters the transactional model, which acknowledges the many added challenges of communicating. With this model, it’s more accurate to think of communication between people as a game of catch. As we communicate our message, we receive feedback from the other party.
As clearly stated through the thoughts above, communication be it verbal or non-verbal is something that transfers ones’ feelings and ideas to another. Nothing sounds and seems challenging yet it is an individual’s way of perceiving the thoughts that arouse difficulties.
In the opinion of the speaker, through the transaction, we create meaning together. But from this exchange, further complications arise. It’s not like the Star Trek universe, where some characters can Vulcan mind-meld, fully sharing thoughts and feelings. As humans, we can’t help but send and receive messages through our own subjective lenses. When communicating, one person expresses her interpretation of a message, and the person she’s communicating with hears his own interpretation of that message.
We humans have been bounded by distinct thoughts and ways of viewing our surroundings, all that comes about as a result of how and where we have been brought up. In continuation, our perceptual filters continually shift meanings and interpretations. Remember that game of catch? Imagine it with a lump of clay. As each person touches it, they shape it to fit their own unique perceptions based on any number of variables, like knowledge or past experience, age, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or family background. Simultaneously, every person interprets the message they receive based on their relationship with the other person, and their unique understanding of the semantics and connotations of the exact words being used. They could also be distracted by other stimuli, such as traffic or a growling stomach. Even emotion might cloud their understanding, and by adding more people into a conversation, each with their own subjectivities, the complexity of communication grows exponentially. So as the lump of clay goes back and forth from one person to another, reworked, reshaped, and always changing, it’s no wonder our messages sometimes turn into a mush of miscommunication.
But, luckily, there are some simple practices that can help us all navigate our daily interactions for better communication. One, recognize that passive hearing and active listening are not the same. Engage actively with the verbal and nonverbal feedback of others, and adjust your message to facilitate greater understanding. Two, listen with your eyes and ears, as well as with your gut. Remember that communication is more than just words. Three, take time to understand as you try to be understood. In the rush to express ourselves, it’s easy to forget that communication is a two-way street. Be open to what the other person might say. And finally, four, be aware of your personal perceptual filters. Elements of your experience, including your culture, community, and family, influence how you see the world. Say, “This is how I see the problem, but how do you see it?
When we try and implement simple but useful practices in our daily behavior the complexities that arise while communicating just sets back and everything around feels easy.
With that Hampsten in the video concludes by stating, “Don’t assume that your perception is the objective truth.” It will help everyone work toward sharing a dialogue with others to reach a common understanding together.
Knowledge & Infos
What’s Special Today: November 10
Historically native to the Indian states of Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand and the southern part of Nepal, Chhath is one of those festivals that transcends the caste system that exists in the society. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated on the sixth day of the lunar month of Kartik. The Chhath Puja is a 4-day long ritual specially offered to the solar deity, Surya, to show thankfulness for good health, good life and to request the granting of some certain wishes.
Day 1: On the first day, the devotees after bathing clean their house and eat the food that is offered to the god to protect the mind from the vengeful tendency.
Day 2: On the second day, the devotees are not allowed to drink even a single drop of water but, in the evening, they eat kheer made up of jaggery, fruits.
Day 3: The evening of the third day which is also known as sandhya ‘arghya’ day where a bamboo basket is decorated with various puja materials, fruits, thekuwa, and laddus which are offered as an ‘argya’ to the Sun. Also, the Chhathi Maiya is worshipped.
Day 4: On the last day of Chhath puja again an arghya is offered to the Sun God but this time in the morning. The devotees go to the riverbank to offer arghya to the rising sun and break their fast and conclude their four-day long worship.
Happy Chhath to everyone! Don’t forget to enjoy some thekuwas!!
World Keratoconus Day:
Every year on November 10, World Keratoconus Day is celebrated to focus global attention on keratoconus and ectatic corneal disorders. The day was first celebrated by National Keratoconus Foundation.
Keratoconus is a disease that causes the cornea to become weak, leading to the thinning and stretching of the cornea, which may result in the loss of vision. Keratoconus is degeneration of the structure of the cornea. The shape of the cornea slowly changes from the normal round shape to a cone shape which affects the vision. The keratoconus mainly develops in teenagers and young adults and the disease keeps on growing, if not diagnosed in time.
The disease has no prevention and no treatment. With early diagnosis, the disease can be managed and further damage can be protected. In Nepal, the prevalence of Keratoconus is 1 in 2000 according to the recent journal. So, this world keratoconus day, make a commitment to visit an eye doctor once a year for the early diagnosis of keratoconus as well as other eye diseases.
Knowledge & Infos
Best and Worst Bank in Nepal as per our survey
We had conducted an online survey to find out how banking services in Nepal are being used and perceived by their users. This article is entirely based on those responses. Thank you Muktinath Bikash Bank for supporting us in conducting this survey.
Over the years, Banks have become an integral part of our daily life and economy. With the shift to digitalization and modernization of the economy, banks have definitely made life easier for people to manage their cash and transactions. With these shifts and increasing dependency on banks more than ever, the use of banking services and users’ banking experience is one of the topics with the minimal amount of research done. Out of curiosity, we conducted an online survey to find out how people have been feeling about the banking services provided by the respective banks.
Respondents were mostly urban educated youth with access to the internet, in the age bracket of 18-40, mostly being from 22-26 age group. The data was collected through social media users, primarily from page followers of KMAG. In total, we got 219 responses out of which 160 were males and 59 were females.
In the list of questionnaires, one of the questions was “which is your favorite bank from Nepal as per your own experience,” and another being “which bank do you think is the worst.” Among 219, 27 respondents were undecided and 192 casted their votes for “best” and the “worst.” To build the conclusion on more strong foundation, we wanted to make sure respondents voice their opinion per their experience for which we had also asked them to reveal their primary bank.
Out of the total participants, a majority of 89.6% have multiple bank accounts though 19.5% of them just use one of those accounts. The remaining 10.4% claimed to have an only bank account. Out of all those banks, Nabil Bank is the primary bank for 36 participants (which was the highest no. of primary account holders in a particular bank). After Nabil, most of them were primary users of NIC Asia, Global IME, and Siddhartha Bank.
Nabil is voted as “Favorite Bank”
Nabil Bank seems to be the most favorite and popular among the respondents. With a total of 45 votes, it was voted the “most liked” bank. Among them, 29 were the primary account holders of the bank. Under “least liked,” it only got 4 votes.
To briefly talk about Nabil Bank, Nabil Bank is an ‘A’ class commercial bank which was founded in 1984 A.D. (2041 B.S.). It was established as Nepal’s first private sector bank incepted by multinational investors with the objective of providing modern, international-standard financial services. It was first established as Nepal Arab Bank Limited. In 1995, Dubai-government owned the majority of shares was bought by Binod Chaudhary.
NIC Asia is “least favourite”
With 76 votes for “worst bank,” NIC Asia seems like the “least liked” bank from Nepal as per the responses. Interestingly though, it has also been voted as “favorite bank” by 17 respondents.
After NIC Asia, Nepal Investment Bank seems like the second “least favorite” bank from Nepal with 23 votes against the bank.
On being asked the reason for disliking the bank, most of the participants seem to agree on the same point and that is “terrible” customer service of the bank. Similarly, other reasons were bad internet/mobile banking facilities, fraud-like business practices, and lack of important banking services/products being provided by the. Not to forget few were unhappy about the lack of branch/ATM services.
The detailed data are presented in the table below:
|Global IME Bank||25||17||10|
|NIC Asia Bank||29||17||76|
|Standard Chartered Bank||9||8||2|
|Bank of Kathmandu||5||6||1|
|Muktinath Bikash Bank||4||4||2|
|Century Commercial Bank||3||3||0|
|Kamana Sewa Bikas Bank||1||3||1|
|Prabhu Bank Limited||8||3||8|
|Rastriya Banijya Bank||3||3||9|
|Agriculture Development Bank||2||2||2|
|Nepal Bangladesh Bank||2||2||2|
|Nepal Investment Bank||15||2||23|
|Garima Bikash Bank||2||1||0|
|Nepal SBI Bank||2||1||11|
|Prime Commercial Bank||7||1||2|
|Manakamana Development Bank||0||0||1|
|Shangri-la Development Bank||1||0||0|
Knowledge & Infos
How to design a survey questionnaire
This article was originally designed for KMAG Online Writing Workshop and made available to public for knowledge-sharing purpose.
A survey is a list of questions aimed at extracting specific data from a particular group of people so that the surveyor can gain knowledge and insights into various topics of interest and then mostly generalize the result. How to design a survey questionnaire completely depends upon the purpose behind the survey. Depending on the purpose, questions are framed.
Let’s understand this way, surveyor seeks to know anything based on either of the following grounds:
- They don’t know anything, they are curious to find out, and they seek for answers. Example: I don’t know many people smoke and I want to find out by asking everyone out there.
- They think they know but they are not sure and they want to find out if what they think they know is actually true or false. Example: I think 50% of Nepalese do smoke but I am not sure yet and I want to validate my assumption by surveying.
- They strongly believe that what they know is the facts and now they want to interpret the world based on the “facts” they live by. Example: I strongly believe that smoking is bad and raising tax and making it expensive is the way to discourage people to smoke. I want to survey to find out how many Nepalese believe the same and agree with raising taxes and making it expensive would discouarge people to smoke.
Whatever grounds you are holding, you must frame your questionnaire according to that. So before working on the questionnaire ask yourself if you are trying to know the unknown or are you trying to validate or crosscheck what you think you know or you are trying to pass judgment or views based on your preset theory/hypothesis that your understanding is based upon.
This is how it goes:
You already have a theory and you want to analyze people based on the theory.
Let’s take for example “Job satisfaction Survey.” In this case, as per your theory/hypothesis, to be called “satisfied” one must be displaying so and so traits and views; if not, the person is not satisfied in his/her job. Based on that, you will be designing a questionnaire and see how many people meet the criteria to pass your judgment. If your theory says, highly satisfied people have flexible working hours, one of your questions will be something like “Can you come to your office at whatever time you want and can leave per your own wish as long as you are doing what you are paid for? Yes/No/Depends.” Likewise, there will be other questions set in a fashion to funnel your judgment regarding what percentage of people are satisfied with their job and work.
You have a theory or hypothesis that you want to validate or crosscheck
In this case, you have an assumption but you are not sure of and you want to crosscheck or validate by testing it on people. For example let’s say you think “Most arranged marriage people are unhappy,” and you want to validate your claim or crosscheck the truth in it by surveying among arranged marriage couples. Your questions will be something like “If you have to rate your marriage in terms of joy and happiness in it, how much will you rate on a 1 to 10 scale?” followed by questions like “if you have a time machine, would you go back right before the marriage and take your time to find out someone to have a love marriage? Yes/No/Maybe”
You don’t have any theory or hypothesis and you are only to find out unseen/unknown reality
In this case, you don’t have any preconceived thoughts or assumptions and you are plainly trying to learn or find out in an open-minded fashion. Like for example, You don’t know how many educated youth from Nepal actually do smoke, nor you know why they smoke despite its negative effect and you are set out to find out the answer by surveying. In such surveys, your questions will be like “do you smoke? Yes/No. “If you smoke, how many cigarettes do you smoke per day?” “despite its negative effect, why do you still smoke?”etc.
Sometimes, you can have a mixed approach, wherein the topic of your interest that you are surveying on, part of it is something you strongly believe being fact, part of it is something you are unsure about, and part of it is something you don’t know a thing about and you are willing to learn. Like for example, you strongly believe happy couples display so and so traits, and you think couples from love marriages are happier but you are not sure of, and you don’t know at all if personal happiness is valued more in marriage or responsibilities and social factors in the context of Nepal. So part of your questionnaires will be driven by your theory that you consider as being fact, part of it will be intended to cross-verify your assumption, and part of it will be purely seeking truth as it is without any deliberate attempt to frame your assumption.
Bottom line, you should know your ground, the purpose of surveying, what you intend to do afterward, based on which you should be working on your questionnaires. Your questionnaires will be designed according to your intention, so there is no hard and fast rule but make sure, in the end, you gather all the relevant information so put together to build a conclusion and for that, you need to think about what all needs to be asked to fill up the blocks and connect the dots.
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