Friday, December 02, 2005

Tactful Communication: Random Thoughts

Responses to yesterday's post were welcomed, enlightening and thought provoking.

Truthfully (uh, weak humor intended), in my mind I was writing about communication. When I began to see responses talking about "truth" I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't realize I had used the word "truth" in the post. I used "honesty" in the title and four times in the body.

Substituting the word "communication" for "honesty", here's what I thought I said:

"Before my wife and I married, I asked her to pledge "tactful communication". I expect her to communicate with me regardless of the pain or discomfort that it may cause me. I asked for "tactful" communication because I'm human and therefore fragile. I want communication in loving terms if possible."

In my first marriage I experienced hidden phone bills and other less-than-honest behavior. My son was drinking and had been arrested for DUI but I was never told and learned about it a few years later. In my mind, honesty and communication and relationship are linked and inseparable. "Be honest with me" can be translated as "communicate with me".

In my work experience, I have known employees who were viewed as problematic but no one had the courage - supervisors included - to communicate with them, to be honest with them. I think they deserved honesty - honest communication - so they would have had the opportunity to correct our misconceptions or change their behavior if they chose.

This morning Paul at Random Thoughts made a good choice of words in his post titled "SUN grocks it". I've heard the term "grocks" but was not certain of its meaning and looked it up on the web. (I'll leave this for you to do, if you're interested: "grocks/groks".) Day before yesterday, on another blog, Enlighten Me, I asked Stacey to explain her understanding of "enlightenment". Using a dictionary and looking up "groks" gave me a fairly precise definition whereas looking up "enlightenment" would be futile. It would be nice if we all had the same vocabulary and the same experiences. Communication might improve.

As we all know, communication is verbal and nonverbal. Did you know that as we age we loose the ability to recognize some emotions conveyed by facial expressions? Some research indicates that older people cannot recognize anger, impatience and frustration on the faces of others. Interesting! Perhaps, this is one of Nature's gifts as we age and loose speed, agility, memory, etc. People in the grocery checkout line behind us may be impatient with us but we don't recognize it and continue in our slow, happy world.

Communication is difficult. For me, at the heart of communication are relationship, patience, courage and effort.

Thanks to all who responded. I hope I heard what you said. If in doubt, I interpreted it in a positive light because that's the relationship we have with one another.


Blogger Trée said...

Paul, another excellent post. I've seen employees fired who had perfect performance reviews. The manager had a problem with the employee but never sat down and communicated with the person. One wonders if the manager simply wasn't building a silent case to get rid of the individual while never giving that person a chance to change or modify their behavior. An abuse of power that rarely goes punished.

Saddest thing I've ever seen in the workplace was someone called into a meeting at the end of the day. They had no idea they were going to be fired. They had no warning--no feedback that everything was not exactly as it should be. To see the shock on their face and wonder what they were going to tell their spouse that night around the dinner table still haunts me.

I'd never heard about losing our ability to read body language as we age. Do you have a link to the research or report? I would love to read more on this subject. Might help me understand my mother-in-law--lol.

Paul, the more I read your postings the more I lament we missed each other for the cup of coffee in Phoenix a few weeks ago. Perhaps our paths will cross again. Have a great weekend my friend.

12/02/2005 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

I don't see communication as a difficult thing. Say what you mean, mean what you say and remember the KISS Principle. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

12/02/2005 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

A friend read my comment and told me it was mean. Surely didn't mean it that way.

12/02/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gaye said...

Whether you're talking about tactful honesty or tactful communication--the answer lies in tact.

12/02/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Tree, I have the book at home. I'll check it this weekend and post some details and a reference to the research.

12/02/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger Trée said...

Thanks Paul.

12/02/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Buffalo, You may have been the target of some meanness in life but I'm not sure you can be mean. I didn't take it as mean because I come from a similar background.

I used to say the same thing: "say what you mean and mean what you say". I still believe it's true and try to practice it. It sure makes life simple.

12/02/2005 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Lucindyl said...

Fascinating stuff about aging and reading facial expressions. I'm interested to read more and will watch for it.

I do some volunteer work on an internet message board that offers support for women dealing with some pretty major relational issues. Most of them have been abused sexually as children. All of them are very, very fragile and very sensitive to anything resembling criticism. Sometimes, as a moderator, I have to say some things to them that are pretty hard to hear--that would be hard for anyone to hear, let alone for someone who deals with the things they do. I am continually amazed and humbled at how gentleness and kindness in the presentation of potentially painful honest communication, can allow the human heart to receive even the hardest "truths" in a totally open manner.

Funny, isn't it? How kindness, consideration and compassion can break down even the thickest communication walls? I think they go even beyond tact, which is in itself a totally invaluable and necessary communication tool.

12/02/2005 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Bonita said...

Again, another interesting post on the nuances of language and relationship. I didn't know that about facial expressions not being read accurately at some stage in older age. I want to find out more about that - just downright fascinating. I know our vision changes, with cataract surgery, etc. And, our hearing goes. That is when touch becomes very important.

12/02/2005 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger kathy said...


I think it was an native american Indian proverb (my memory fails me, old age here!) that said.."The Truth requires few words." I think its true! I like SIMPLE honesty myself.

12/02/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

yeah it was Chief Joseph. I looked it up..i had to make sure. his exact words are "It does not require many words to speak the truth."

I'm a quote nut! sorry!

12/02/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Trée said...

Kathy, I had never heard that one but I love it!

12/02/2005 11:51:00 PM  

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