Friday, July 25, 2008

About Communication

Recently I received a sharp hit on my knuckles, by the Only One, who is allowed by all means to strike me, whenever. He does it for my own good. This is the third time He is doing so in the last two years that I have started blogging.

The concept of blogging was unknown to me until, quite by chance I met someone at poetry reading and wanted to exchange my writing with her’s. I was given certain links to read her work – poetry and prose. Needless to say I loved what I had just received. A communication between us ensued and finally I opened account in the same blogsite and ever since life has never been the same. However, I was soon to receive a tight slap from the One Above, for getting close to a few commentators on my blog. Having learnt nothing from that I received what I generally like to call, the best way He can teach me a lesson – a bitter experience, after another long ensuing friendship, that started of with fellow-blogger. I thought I had learnt my lesson. But no! Yet again, I did make another mistake and of course I received another sharp hit on my knuckle.

The point I am trying to make here is, as humans, communication is in our genes. We will communicate in one way or the other. As an ex-advertising person, I know the value of communication. I also know, the different forms of communication, tools and methods we use to speak, verbally and quite often through body language. Sample a piece of my own writing to understand what I am talking about. It is from a story I have titled Voice, because, here the protagonist’s house help, anxious to communicate, begins to talk to a visitor in a language, the latter does not understand.

“We left on our errand. When I returned before dusk to the house, I found I was alone with Mami. The drawing room was a picture of old wooden furniture, not antique, just solid wood that is becoming hard to find in the cities today. The furniture was well maintained, getting their polish ones every two years and being dusted by Mami’s able hands every day. I sat on a chair and looked at the TV, which was turned off. I saw a few books at the bottom of the TV Stand. Mami came to the door that connected the drawing room to the adjoining dining room. She stood at the doorway, half her body hidden behind the doorway and the other half visible to me.

" Kaapi wenuma?" ( Do you want coffee?)

I shook my head " Wanda" I said in the little Tamil I knew.

She did not leave the doorway, but continued to remain there. And in the next half-hour, I heard her whole life story in Tamil. She just spoke. She knew no other language except Tamil. I knew only Bengali, English, Hindi and a bit of French. But Tamil? No! I did not speak it nor understand it. I sat half turned towards her and half my body still turned to the TV, occasionally looking at her just for a little while. But she spoke in a voice that was desperate to tell a story. I was an outsider and therefore a person who was not a part of the family. It was safe to talk to me. I was not going to be there all my life. From a few words like " hospital" etc. I could tell she was talking about her husband. Meena manni had told us that her husband had died in the hospital. Except for a useless son, she was alone in the world and she had been with this family for the last forty years. I knew therefore the content of her monologue without understanding the words.

I came from a background of communication. I understood and was ever sensitive to the need for human beings to communicate. I knew there were different types of communication and my professional training had taught me to use these modes and methods to communicate to a larger audience. It had also taught me to know when to speak and when to keep quiet. To be a fine listener and to be able to listen to the gaps between words. Above all, I heard and trusted body language. The body does not lie. That is why, I had maintained this side position when she was speaking. I did not want to confront her with the front view of my body and my direct glance. She also was half hidden behind the doorway, only half-visible to me. In that position, she communicated to me that she was only ready to tell me what she was comfortable to talk about. The other half of her body was an area she had forgotten or had hidden in the deep recesses of her mind. It might have been her childhood, her growing years. If I had changed my seat and gone and sat on a chair facing her completely, I am sure she would have stopped talking. She too did not want to see me at front view…this way I was hidden from her direct view."

What I have never been used to or trained in is the language of blogging for it seems that here the rules are different. In fact, the learning curve in my case has been constantly taking a dip, sadly.

Touch, voice, eye contact are only natural to most communications. Yet, in the blogging world there is a difference. Strangely, if you like someone’s writings or even their blog very much, you might want to get to know them personally. It is only natural, I think. And yet, there is a grave danger. More often than not, the attempt leads to communication breakdown.

My years of training as a communication professional, even my Masters in Business Management with specialization in Human Resources, has only proved one thing – no amount of learning can make me perfect and new grounds need me to learn continuously even though I know, I will never be perfect in it.

Thank God, my Teacher this time is not in the classroom. I won’t have exams, EXAMS, kind of thing.

Only struck on my knuckles!
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