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do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?
maybe we should work on our communication skills
by maigen thomas (@Maigen)

Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. It is what moves us through every day, through each interaction with another human being. Hand gestures can ask for more and say stop, can suggest movement and sketch ideas, can say thank you and disparage. A touch can convey compassion, sympathy, joy, exhilaration, excitement. Even silence can hold space for yourself or someone else when there are no words that seem tremendous enough to express the right meaning.

Verbal communication, using words and building a dialogue, is what sets us above the animals. We have millions of expressions at our disposal; we should carefully select simple but effective sentiments for any occasion – but it is increasingly rare that we do so. In the age of Twitter, Facebook status updates and texting, communication between humans has decayed in so many ways. Intentional verbal missteps have been made common, and due to their commonality, are being included in the ever-expanding communal lexicon. Despite these questionable advancements, it has never been more widespread than now – the age of instant communication – that communication itself has been so neglected.

Maybe it is because people are so constantly inundated with information that they lose a sense of filtering, forget how to be present. So many times when the lack of communication becomes an issue, perhaps the blame lies with having ‘too much information’ presented at once. It’s difficult to order ‘right now’ at a coffee shop or a restaurant when you’re texting six people about a concert on Friday. But because you’re preoccupied with information and plans that are non-essential to the task at hand, you find yourself irritated when the waiter seems a little ‘bitchy’ – and you wonder why.

The other day, I found myself working a trip with a coworker who never heard a single thing I spoke to her the first time. Initially, I blamed myself. I was speaking too quietly (a shocking assumption, if you’ve ever met me) or possibly running my words together; perhaps I was accidentally facing the wall instead of her. Eventually, after repeating every statement I made an absurd amount of times I came to the conclusion that she was either a) partially deaf or b) just not paying any attention at all.

Because I have slightly better interpersonal skills than your average four year old, I did not grab her by the ears to shake her head until it fell off and then shout down the blood-spurting throat hole “Are you just a space cadet or have you actually been huffing ethanol?”

I feel pretty good about the kind of human being I am, resisting the temptation to do that.

That’s only one example of how communication is breaking down between people.

Sadly, far more important relationships suffer when communication begins to deteriorate. Not paying attention to your constantly droning spouse will spawn resentment, leading to fights that feature trite dialogue such as “You never listen to me” and “You’re always…” In one opinion, there’s never anything important being said (and there is definitely a great point in favour of not speaking unless what one is going to say is of value) which allows the receiver to tune out. In the other opinion, shouldn’t every conversation carry weight due to the significance of the speaker?

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, I witness a lot of people – including myself – who don’t speak when words are wanted or needed most. Just like everyone else, it seems, I have a hard time knowing what to say when it comes to moments of being truly sincere. I have no words to reach for to tell a friend I am sorry his dad has passed. I have no idea how to express my feelings when I want to tell a guy I want more than just friendship. I can’t express how much I value the time I have left with my own family. I don’t know how to tell someone I’d rather not go on another date. It is situations big and small, like these, where a Hallmark card just won’t do. Everyone needs to learn to communicate better, more clearly, with genuine honesty. If we could develop communication as a talent rather than a mere coincidence of having vocal cords, relationships would be more ardent, friendships would be stronger, and families would be more cohesive.

In light of how pervasive and persuasive the internet is, I am not sure we’ve hit the top (or bottom?) of the bell curve on poor communication skills, yet.

Because so often we fail to “Say what we mean and mean what we say”, most of the hot air coming out of any particular person’s mouth does nothing more than contribute to the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If communication is the act of conveying meaningful information, and so much of the information we offer has no meaning, are we still communicating?


Maigen is simple. is smart. is wholesome. is skeevy. is spicy. is delicate. is better. is purer. is 100% more awesome than yesterday. She';s traveling the world and writing about her experiences with life, love, yoga, food, travel and people. Mostly people. Because they';re funny. hear more of her random thoughts @maigen on twitter.

more about maigen thomas


are you charming or tedious?
it depends, how much time do you have?
by maigen thomas
topic: general
published: 3.26.12

i am totally special and unique.
just like you.
by maigen thomas
topic: general
published: 9.24.08


adam kraemer
8.23.11 @ 10:17a

I believe there should, in fact, be a card for every situation. "Sorry your son is now your daughter, but love him/her for who he/she really is." Except in rhyme.

And nothing frustrates me more in a movie than a character not communicating the things he should be able to. I hate to use "Dinner for Schmucks" as an example of anything, but large portions of it really irked me, solely because Paul Rudd's character seemed totally incapable of explaining even the simplest things to his fiancee. Ugh.

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