Lost in translation

Since returning from Mexico, one thought has been weighing heavy on my mind. You see, I don’t speak spanish. Well, I can speak a little bit but I don’t understand much at all. Where I was, that wasn’t much of a problem. Most everyone I encountered spoke enough English that I was able to get what I needed. Furthermore, I was surrounded by tourists and expats, most of whom were native English speakers. Still, not being able to effectively communicate in the language of the country I was in left me feeling lost.

The thought that has been on my mind however is that this is how I feel most of the time. Even though I speak English fluently, as do most of the people I regularly engage with in conversation, I feel like we are speaking different languages. My words, my experiences, my perceptions, when communicated to another person take on different meanings depending on the other person’s understanding of the words or their own experiences and perceptions. I work really hard at effective communication but it still seems to me that I fail as often as I succeed. Well… it may be more accurate to say that we fail since communication is a two-way street.

I think we all want to be understood and I think we all are frustrated with how often that doesn’t happen. I think we settle for being heard. Too often, we don’t listen, we don’t open ourselves up for feedback and we don’t try to understand. We just put our words out there and expect that to be good enough. If we don’t get what we want we can blame the other person for not listening. If they interpret our words in a way that we don’t like, we feel judged or attacked. We react defensively rather than in a manner that might enhance actual communication.

I’m all too aware of this problem. When I’m sober I spend much of my time terrified of being misunderstood. For some reason, that really matters to me. I struggle with every word and often find it really difficult to say anything. This post seems to be taking me forever and it’s not because I don’t have the thoughts in my head. I’m just having a hard time finding the right words. Of course when I’m drunk it’s almost impossible to get me to shut up. Drunk communication has it’s own set of pitfalls however.

Sometimes I wish I could say whatever was on my mind no matter what. I wish I didn’t fear being misunderstood or judged. At the very least, I wish I didn’t care so much. But perhaps that’s not all a bad thing. I’m just trying to find the balance.

 

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About lefreakshow
A walking contradiction attempting to make sense of this crazy world though the power of creation, exploration and communication.

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