A failure to communicate

It’s Friday morning, and since you’ve been at work, you’ve spoken with colleagues, read and processed emails, returned several voicemails, written a few emails, and posted a few thoughts on social media.

It’s now 11:30 a.m., and you’re wondering where the morning has gone, as you see your boss flag you into a department meeting. More talking.

All this time, you’ve been half consumed with thoughts over a disagreement with your spouse from the night before, and the sounds of your teenager’s claim this morning that you just don’t understand him.

With all this going on, you reflect back on what your colleagues have said to you this morning, or what any of the emails were about and you’re drawing a blank. How is it we could spend three hours communicating, and nearly none of it has registered?

Maybe our teenager is right.

We spend 70-80 per cent of our day communicating in one way or another, and we can’t remember much of it. For a large portion of it, we simply aren’t present.

Further, when we are communicating, we aren’t doing it well.

We spend about nine per cent of our communication time writing, 16 per cent reading, 30 per cent speaking, and 45 per cent listening. Studies also confirm that most of us are poor and inefficient listeners.

There are several reasons for this. Our brains are hard-wired for distraction, we process words at four times the speed of speech and we haven’t been taught auditory comprehension, essentially, how to listen effectively.

In school, we were taught to read, write, speak (to some degree) and to process. But we weren’t shown how to listen.

And it’s costly.

Ask any family lawyer of marriage councillor, and they’ll tell you a primary reason for marital breakdown is a communication failure. We lose touch with our kids over failed communication (primarily, an inability to listen).

And it’s having a huge impact on work.

A study by Independent Directors Council, a US financial advisory body, concluded miscommunication cost companies $624 per employee annually.

Because of the far reaching nature of this, Still Here Mindfulness will be launching a separate mindfulness of communication program next year, slated to begin February. Contact us for more details.

Kevin Diakiw