Communicating: How You Say it Creates the Meaning of the Message

380519_message_padWords are important but intonation and context create the meaning in your communication. Misunderstandings come largely from a misinterpretation of the context or the framework around the words. The meaning of the message becomes distorted. Even a single word can cause a response so far from the original intention that a conversation breaks down instantly.

Take the word, “oh.” It can mean a multitude of things depending on how you say it:

  • “Oh?” a question.
  • “Oooh!” understanding.
  • “Uh oh.” A mistake.
  • “Oooh?” as in, “You are in trouble now!”
  • “Ohhhhh!” as in, “I really like that!”

If “oh?”(a question) is the response to wonderful news when “ohhhhh!” (I like that) might have been the expected response the conversation could take a distinctly different turn. The bearer of good news who was feeling elated might suddenly be questioning their own feelings.

Just thinking about the turns this short exchange could take is the stuff of sit-coms. She said this and he heard that. Yikes.

In sit-coms the endings are always happy but in real life the consequences might not wrap up with contented, evolved human beings.

How you say it—food for thought.

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