August 21, 2002
Miscommunication

Miscommunication

When I was in school, people used to chuckle at those in pursuit of a Mass Communications major. It was deemed as an easier road than the Sciences. The subject matter was supposed to be inferior to even Political Science or English. I myself am not quite sure what exactly was covered in those popularly attended classes, but I am a bit confused by one thing…

Why has communicating with one another become such a science that we need workshops, seminars, and college level courses to be successful at it?

Now I am not knocking the Mass Comm majors, I am after something much bigger here. Let’s start with the dreaded job search. Many students spend hours on end proofing their resumes at the career center, and all to decide if they should use the word “created” or “constructed” (ed. Note: I always preferred “made appear”). To make matters worse, entire business classes were dedicated to the interviewing process. I had friends that agonized over what to wear, things to avoid saying, and possible answers to give when asked “if a tree falls in the woods…”

Or how about once you get the job? At work you are expected to wear a suit and prepare colorful Powerpoint presentations in order to relay information between one another in an accepted manner.

To me it is all a game. I don’t know who created it, or when I got signed up for it, but I don’t want to play. I would like to put on my resume, “I plan to write my thesis for a couple of hours this afternoon, why don’t you come down and watch me work.” Or how about telling the interviewer, “What’s my worst trait? At about 5pm I get pretty itchy to check my Fantasy Baseball team, but you can bet that I’ve done more work from 9-5 than Mr. Last Guy to leave the office over there.”

OK, so these forms of communication aren’t practical – but are the types that we currently use very realistic? I think it is easy for us to become programmed in life. You have to preserve an image for certain people to pay attention to what you are saying and you have to follow certain rules to communicate. But I think that it would be better if we said a little more of what was on our minds, and if the people we were talking to really knew where we were coming from.

My solution to the problem is admittedly oversimplified, but it is a step in the right direction: Whether it be an interview, a work meeting, or any other formal meeting – there should be a tradition that time is spent bullshitting. Sure it would be time consuming, but the length of the “formal” parts of the communication would shrink. Each person would gain a base level of mutual understanding that would either galvanize the relationship or terminate it. Either way, the net efficiency of the communication rises dramatically, even as the individuals are acting more naturally.

There is more to explore on this subject, but I am out of time… but hey, don’t tell your boss I said it was OK to wear the “F*** you” neck tie to work, OK?

Posted by alex at August 21, 2002 09:47 PM
Comments

Since recently entering the "Professional World" I have found that corporate "Buzz Words" make me absolutely insane. Why don't people "Think outside of the box" and use their own damn terminology instead of overcompensating for their stupidy with these innane phrases that mean absolutely nothing. I wish these corporate a-holes would "hit the ground running" and keep running.

Posted by: Laura on August 23, 2002 3:53 AM

Exactly... it's a whole other article in itself. I may have to revisit this topic down the line

Posted by: AO on August 25, 2002 5:37 AM

When you say "there should be a tradition that time is spent bullshitting", what do you mean, exactly? Just more casual conversation? I'm not agreeing or disagreeing (yet!), just clarifying. I'm all for communication.

Posted by: Robin on August 29, 2002 10:34 PM
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