IKA WEEKLY – Communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals either verbally or through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviour.


It is a two-way traffic meaning that the givers and receivers of the information must understand themselves before communication can be said to have taken place.


From the above definition, it is clear that communication is not all about talking. It is not in every situation that words come in to play.


There are certain situations where verbal communication may curse embarrassment to the person at the receiving end. In such case, simple signs can be used.


When we say a ‘common symbol’, it means that the method of communication used should be one that both the giver and the recipient of the information can understand.


Therefore, when you raise a finger, it is expected that the person you are talking to should have been used to that sign and understands it.


There was an instance of a mother who wanted her daughter to offer their family friend who came to visit a bottle of soft drink. Trying to do it without the visitor’s fore knowledge, the woman did a quick move with her head while looking at the little girl.


The girl misunderstood the sign to mean “please excuse us”, and so she left the sitting room, and did not return until the visitor had gone.


The woman was furious with the girl and called her all sorts of names, saying that she was an empty head who could not understand simple signal.


You can imagine how the girl felt that day. This is a girl who thought that it is wise for a child to leave the sitting room when the adults are discussing because that was what she was told. She might have been happy with herself for understanding and obeying her mother, only for her to be insulted and beaten later


Another story was told of a man who felt that his friends were draining him financially by coming to him for food and drink everyday.


One day, when the friends came visiting, he decided not to offer them anything, but lacked the courage to do it directly. So he winked at his younger brother and said “go to Tony’s shop and get four bottles of stout”.


According to the story, the man expected the brother to leave the room and not return until his friends had gone, but the boy misunderstood the sign to mean “please buy four bottles of stout with your money, I will pay back later”, so he got the drink for the visitors.


The man was very angry with the boy, and refused to pay him the money, saying that since he could not understand simple sign, he should forfeit his money.


The problem with the people in the two stories is that they felt that the younger ones should understand them, but failed to realize that the young ones are not used to the signs used.


Do not use a sign that your partner or children will not understand. Do not use a sign simply because others are using it, or because your friends’ children understand a particular sign, your children must do to, without your teaching them what you want them to known.


For instance, there is a common saying that “silence means consent”. This is not applicable to all situations. In some cases, silence could mean anger, shyness, confusion or even nonchalance.


It will be dangerous to any relationship if the people involved operate on the basis of assumption. Instead of assuming that a person knows or understands the message passed across, it will cost you nothing to find out if he or she truly understands in order to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding.


Some people are suffering in their relationships because their feelings have not been communicated in clear terms to the right person.


What if he or she does not know? How long will you suffer in silence? Will it not be more beneficial if you make your feelings known, and save yourself from heartache and frustration?


And you to whom the message is passed to, admit that you understand and act accordingly when you truly don’t. Do not dodge your responsibilities by pretending that you do not understand.


I know that some people especially the shy ones sometimes cannot verbalize their feelings, but exhibit certain behaviours that convey the message to the other person.


Lack of good communication channel has ruined and is still ruining many relationships today. If only we can be more sincere and tolerant in our dealings, life will be more bearable for all.      

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