Friday, April 13, 2018

Whaddaya Think?

It is a common enough thing to say to another. "Whaddaya think?" It may even be a close second to, "How's it going'?" Musical giant Bruce Springsteen refers to it as a familiar greeting from one of his close friends, producer Jon Landau. I myself have used it to myself as well as with others. I like knowing "The Boss" does that, too. As popular as that phrase or question is, however, the real matter revolves around what answer a person has for it. Should one try to answer it, there then becomes the matter of properly framing the response. After all, the question is both broad and specific - or at least seems that way.

For my part, what I think is communication is hard. Since we all communicate, people tend to take it for granted or treat it lightly. Unfortunately, someone who does communicate well is not that common. Why? The answer is found in recognizing that communication requires research, planning, pre-testing, setting a timeline, and figuring out ways to measure it success. Who wants to go to all that trouble? In many cases, people do not. Why should they? After all, they can communicate without having to do any analytical thinking or processing. Leave that to the communication nerds who seem to want to turn a simple act into something more complex.

This, to me, encapsulates the dual and conflicting elements that define communication: it's simplicity and complexity. The two elements coexist at the same time. This is definitely not the case in many or any other social sciences. One result of this ongoing duality is success and even failure at different levels. For instance, I can announce to my wife that I am angry. But how can or should I do that in a way that triggers a positive response from her? How can I do it in a way that does not cause her to feel defensive? Answering these questions points out the complexity of communication and how one must attempt to address those various layers simultaneously if they are to be effective. This is what I think.

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