It was a networking breakfast at the crack of dawn.  I had risen early, collected the other partner, and we had driven off across the city.  The sun had barely crossed the horizon and the temperature was hovering around ‘officially winter’.   And truth to tell I am never at my best before my second cup of coffee.

So it was with a well honed habit that I handed my business card to the eager person before me, murmuring my name and business as the strong smell of percolating coffee filled my senses.

I was brought back to reality when the eager beaver scanned my card and then burst out with ‘Can you help me with my router?’   – His what?

Wide awake now I realised that when I said ‘Communication Trainer’ he had confused my communication meaning with the other communication meaning – if you see what I mean.

Usually I am alert to such a mistake, but with the lack of coffee …. well you get the picture.

I wish there was another way of describing all that electronic stuff that confuses and confounds us technically challenged lot – so that when I murmur that ‘I am a communication trainer’ we wouldn’t have – well a communication breakdown!!  That is what I try to teach people to avoid!

So I suppose what I want to cover this Monday morning is what Trischel means when we  highlight our ‘Two Principles of Communication’ – er, which communication are we actually talking about?

Well the words ‘talking about’ give it away I think; we mean the personal process humans use to convey our ideas and opinions; and our thoughts and information; and to inspire and enthuse; and to instruct and compel; and to encourage and amend.

Oh dear, perhaps I need a dictionary!!

So first to my 1940 edition of Chambers; the relic of an earlier and simpler era – it defines communication as ‘the art of communication’ which merely leads one to ‘communicate‘to give a share of, to reveal, bestow or impart.’  This may indicate that the problem goes further than I thought.

Surely the good ol’ Oxford English Dictionary can do better? – communicate Impart, transmit, (heat, motion, feeling, news, a discovery) which is sort of getting there in an abstract kind of way.

So what about that 21st century version – the ‘Encyclopaedia of the People’ – Wikipedia? It defines Communication as ‘the activity of conveying meaningful information which finds us confused about what is meant by ‘meaningful information’!

So it seems that the term itself is not easy to define, and if we have problems with the denotive meaning – what fun can we have with the connotative?

Perhaps we can rediscover our simpler explanations ‘to share’ and to ‘transmit’.  Sharing implies the giving and receiving – while transmitting means the sending and receiving.

So if I share something with you, surely I am giving you something personally from myself; and if I am sending you something I am using a means to share something with you.

So is this the difference between personal communication and electronic communications; the first is the sharing while the second is the means or methods of sharing?

There is a whole literature on trying to define and explain what the process of communication actually is, and it is taught in Sociology as well as Psychology.

In his article ‘What is communication’ –Niklas Luhmann points out the difficulty of defining communication because it does cross the disciplines of sociology and psychology –  and yet he still tries to do so.

Probably one of the easiest explanations to understand is written by one of the GenderGurus in the article on their web site. Understanding the process of communication and the barriers we face, is an essential part of coming to terms with why we can get it so wrong.

Which is why scholars and even people like me try to formulate theories and describe best practices in order for us to help people understand and improve their ability to share their ideas and opinions and all the rest of it!

Electronic communication provides us with new and exciting means of communicating such as mobile phones, emails, social media and oh a host of other methods for us to use – but it can never be the communication itself.

So the quick answer to my early morning confused networker was ‘Sorry, No; I can’t help you with your router’  but once it’s fixed I can help you sort out your ideas, organise your thoughts, and understand the fine balance we should strive for between boring facts and figures and emotive appeals to the heart.

I short I can help you communicate – then you can use whatever means of communication you choose.

Michele @ Trischel
Innovative Communication Training

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