Did I hear that right?

…or should that be ‘correctly’?

Twice, in the last month. I have had to deal with couples who have got to the point of being about to part company because one person misheard what the other person said and the following miscommunications tumbled into a battle. The impression that I get is that in the lockdown/furlough process many of us are switching off emotionally and not paying proper attention to what is going on around us. The potential for miscommunication just grows. This shutting down is an understandable coping mechanism to deal with the potential boredom and monotony but not helpful in maintaining a relationship. When ‘that hitch’ is heard as ‘fat bitch’ we have a problem.

Recently I cooked a birthday meal and printed a menu for the diners. In doing it I remembered that, back in the London of my childhood, people would accidentally, or deliberately, get words wrong. So, Aperitif became ‘a pair of teeth’ and Hors d’ oeuvres became, ‘horse’s doovers’. Then today Chris Abouzeid made me laugh when he tweeted…

…‘So evidently our 13 year old thought ‘prima Donna’ meant anyone born before Madonna (i.e. pre-Madonna). Please send oxygen. We cannot stop laughing.’

It made me laugh as well. It was the tweets that followed that made me think of how we so easily miscommunicate. The child, who’s mother was a potter, went into panic at the news the baby sitter had been ‘Fired’. Laura who had thought that euthanasia was a young people’s place in Japan. I recall my younger sister, in her teenage, stunning us all when said ‘what is the point of oral sex? Why would you just to want to talk about it?’ Mind you, these days in the various forms of Covid lockdown many people have little else to do than talk about it.

Madam de Gaulle stunned a post war BBC interviewer when her answer to his question ‘what would you like with your retirement’ sounded like ‘I just want a penis’. She was actually saying ‘I just want happiness’ but with a strong French accent.

In the vagaries of Cockney rhyming slang the word used would be the one that didn’t rhyme. So ‘apples and pears’ meant stairs but you would only ever use the word ‘apples’. ‘Could you go up the apples and get my titver?’ = Can you go upstairs and get my hat? (Tit for tat = hat)

I think about the problems that we have communicating the simplest of everyday things in our relationships and then I look at the immense mis communication taking place over Covid-19 and Brexit. When I look at the government floundering around making u-turns and rewriting the rules day on day it would be fair to say that they are making a right orchestra of it all.
(Orchestra stalls = Balls).

In everyday conversations we often only hear want we want or expect to.

Said: ‘Wow, I think you are really good at that’.
Heard: ‘Oh, so you now want me to do it all the time do you’.

Said: ‘You look really curvy it that’.
Heard: ‘So you think I am fat.’

Oronyms are when we completely mishear a sentence. It is assumed that this is something going on in the brain though I suspect that lack of attention might be the real culprit. (audicus.com Diana Michel )

Said: ‘I got a new Toyota’
Heard: ‘I got a new toy Yoda’

Said: ‘What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome?’
Heard: ‘What is the biggest turtle you have overcome?’

Chinese whispers are when the words of a message get changed as it is passed from one person to the next. The classic is the First World War example of a commander sending a message back to HQ, ‘send reinforcement we are going to advance’. By the time the message was passed from one to person another down the line the message that HQ got was ‘send three and four pence we are going to a dance’.

Even worse that verbal communication is the text or email that we know can communicate as little as 7% of what the sender intended. The chance to mishear digital communications is huge.

There would seem to be three elements when we attempt to communicate. The first is what I said, the second is what you heard and the third is what you thought I meant. They may all be different.

There is only one way to be clear about the words used and meaning behind them and that is to ask. So, my resource for this week is try this on the people around you…

‘When you said that I heard ………………………. Is that what you meant?’

You will be amazed at how many times you get the wrong end of the stick. Either way you might be elated or totally disgruntled by what you thought you heard and in. both cases be completely wrong.

So, this week take a breath, stop and check what is going on around you, you may have it wrong.

Take care and be happy

Sean x

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