Communication

The foremost aspect of the communication process is first being conditioned with emotion and images in association to the method of communication to be use. This is relatively easy for humans because our evolutionary history has given us a good memory and made us good vocalizes (and gesturers). Of course, what benefit is having good memory and being a good vocalizer when you don’t have someone who can relate to your gestures, utterances, and emotional tonal variances? Thus evolution has also developed within the human brain a mechanism, commonly referred to as “mirror neurons” (See note 1) to help one feel what others are expressing. In fact, this mechanism can also be found in the brain of a few species of pack/herd/social animals other than human.

Now, if you step back and look at the most basic aspect of the communication process, you’ll see that your conditioned response (both cognitively (unseen neural activity) and behaviorally (visible behavior))–to a particular vocalization (spoken word)–cannot be precisely the same as that of another human, considering all the variables involved in the learning/conditioning process. Therefore, you can never get a precise understanding of what a person is communicating; but you can get a general idea, provided your brain has the capacity and it has been conditioned similarly to the person you are in communication with.

The common man makes statements open to interpretation and assumes every one except the most stupid around him will understand precisely what he is talking about. Scholarly philosophers on the other hand know better and spend more time defining and clarifying than they do making statements that might be misinterpreted.

In business communication courses you learn that when a person doesn’t quite understand what you mean, then you as the communicator made a mistake in the communication process. To convey this idea to the student, he (or she) is taught to “Keep It Simple, Stupid”–thereby suggesting to the student that the one misunderstanding isn’t the stupid one, but the one miscommunicating may be. However, I suspect stupidity–in the sense of being ignorant of something necessary for good communication–plays a part in the misunderstanding and miscommunication of both parties.

Notes:

¹Now when I state “mirror neurons” are likely the basis of “feeling” what others express, I’m not talking about a single neuron, but a network of neurons that evolved in our prehuman ancestors as a result of selective pressures acting on individuals functioning within the pack/herd/group.

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