Communication demands talking, but also listening

You’d think that after four years of college education, students would know how to communicate. If you are delusional, like me, to think that, then I’ve got bad news for you – you’re wrong.

Public Speaking is one of the courses that fall under the Liberal Arts curriculum here at Gannon, and at every university, I suppose. Engineering and health sciences majors are required to take these, just as humanities students are.

Speech lies in the company of philosophy, religion and writing – courses students in all majors tend to complain about having to take, especially if they think it doesn’t pertain at all to their education. As a journalism communication student myself, I did not enjoy taking some of these courses, but I realized their importance nonetheless.

See, I know I am not worth much when I do not know how to talk politics, religion or philosophy with people when I graduate or even as a student, but I know I am worth nothing if I fail at communicating my point to people – knowledge of anything is meaningless when it’s not communicated correctly.

The thing about communication is that when people hear this concept, they think only of the most rudimentary meaning it holds – how to convey content accurately and efficiently.

However, communication is a two-way street as everyone should know. People tend to ignore the opposite direction of that street, which is listening to what the other person is trying to say.

Many people in our lives tend not to listen. In fact, most people either interrupt each other, or if we’re lucky, pretend to be listening while they are in reality waiting for whoever is talking to finish his or her sentence, so they can resume talking themselves.

I have been guilty in doing that numerous times myself, and I am not proud of it.

But as I continue to observe it in other people, I realize how this way of communication is infuriating. Politicians are guilty of it, clergymen are guilty of it, professors, students, parents and siblings are guilty of it. It doesn’t make it right.

We often hear of the phrase “lost in translation” when people who speak different languages fail to communicate with each other. I’d like to coin a new one: lost in interruption.

Those who constantly interrupt one another, don’t care for one another. Those who are unable to carry on a civil conversation – that means accepting different opinions and points of view – don’t have anything valuable to offer themselves; because in all honesty, what’s more valuable than someone’s time and ear?

I do not know if there is a definite solution to this problem. But one thing I do know: everyone is in deep trouble if it persists. On a narrow level, friendships will be based on thin sticks. On a wider level, and not to sound too dramatic, political and social thoughts will go unheard and any chance of changing the world everyone seems to complain about might as well be forfeited now.



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