So you sit in a meeting. Some things are decided. Some words are used. A report is written.
Progress. The list could go on.
A few months later, you’re sat in another meeting. You hear and use the same words again. But you feel like people are talking past each other.
You receive a report from one professional which is open to interpretation by another. What does ‘total communication environment’ really mean after all?
Gradually over time you come to the realisation that although you are all using the same words – everyone is attributing subtly different meanings to those words. After all a speech therapists understanding of communication is going to be very different to that of a teacher and different again to that of a parent.
You see when I say ‘progress’ to my child’s teacher – what I think I’m saying is ‘how are getting on at the job of educating my child’ but what I think they hear is ‘you haven’t accepted his learning disability and still think he’s going to go to Oxbridge and can’t you just be happy that he’s happy’ (ok – there may be a little bit of projection there but I hope you get my point).
Oh the beautiful irony of communication breakdown when talking about communication.
So I’m trying to find ways to make it easier but it’s hard. You see people are convinced they all speak the same language. They can’t see how our individual experiences load our meanings of words. Checking understanding should be a key element to all communication. Maybe it would go someway to resolving what often feels like an adversarial and combative system.
Perhaps paying closer attention to the language could be a powerful agent for change.