Picture this: You speak and the listener perfectly gets what you’re saying, replies and you perfectly get the response. Ideal, isn’t it? But unfortunately that’s not what happens in real life communication. Communication involves the transfer of information between a sender and a recipient, simple enough, right? But it can be influenced by one’s emotions, culture, education, age, communication medium, and even your location. Two people can interpret the identical message in pretty different ways depending on their personal influences.
Jokes are a great example of risk of miscommunication, especially when they involve irony or sarcasm – what’s funny to someone might be offensive to another. A text message which was meant by the sender to be friendly and explain a point is received as pushy and aggressive.
Even with my wife – and we’ve been married for 28 years – last week she asked me a favor to sit for her at a church board meeting and I said that I couldn’t do that because I was already representing 2 other departments and she has 2 associate directors that could represent her. She took it as I was not willing to help her at all and I had been rude in my response.
But all is forgiven by now, at least I hope.
With students this problem can arise as well – especially when a student is more passive and expects you to open their heads up with marvelous, mind-boggling information that will turn them into gloriously bright students – all of that in a 60 minute class – once a week.
Of course that expectation is frustrated and one student told me today: “I don’t know what happened, I used to like studying – now I don’t feel like studying English.” Honestly, she hasn’t been much dedicated since the very first class – she never understands what she is supposed to do and never asks me to explain again – so I have had to repeat the very same lesson three times because every time she would misplace her lesson, or forget the vocabulary seen before or say she didn’t know what to do. I understand as we age our memory tends to get less elastic but you need to take charge of your learning process.
I told her, “Ok, apparently you don’t like any of the topics I’ve been presenting to you. Think of language points you would like to cover or subjects you would like to discuss in class and I’ll prepare a lesson for you… that’s one of the benefits of having a private tutor”. What did she say? “I don’t have a crystal ball to know that I could suggested a topic” (despite the fact it’s been clearly stated in the agreement she signed before the very first class or so I thought).
It comes to show that although I’m widely considered to be a good communicator I still have room to improve. My takeaway from this student.
Be direct and clear
Encourage student to express their thoughts, feelings and needs in an honest way.
Accept other people’s limitations and respect them.
Do NOT be hostile or aggressive.
Always keep a smile even when feeling like growling or scowling.
There’s always room for improvement.