Have you seen the very funny scene in Rush Hour 3 with Chris Tucker in the martial arts school talking to the master, whose name for comedic effect is Yu? (If you haven’t, click on the link www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAVnOz7i-JA, it is worth it). It is a typical example of miscommunication, which in this instance can provoke the audience to laugh, but the participants in the conversation are not. Miscommunication is a major cause of many arguments, and we have all experienced it, most of us every single day. It starts from the moment we have will, desires and needs that have to be met. A baby cries out of frustration many times because it cannot have what it wants and neither can it communicate it. Eventually crying will be the baby’s communication pathway and the parent has to make an educated guess, at best as to what the baby is after.
Why is miscommunication so prominent in our lives? Is it the communicator, the listener or the medium? And by medium we mean all the possible ways of communicating. Verbally, from the language we use through to the words we use, from the tone of voice to the quality of the voice and diction. Through our body language, by the way we present ourselves, the position of our hands, where our eyes are looking. Even our facials expressions down to the eyes that “never lie” are paramount to communicating our message.
So the words we use, our body language, and facial expressions are all systems of transferring information. Often they convey messages irrelevant to the actual words we are using, but relevant to the context of what we are attempting to communicate. Often, we are unaware of all the cues that we give out, and we can give out mixed signals. Often, the listener is not paying enough attention to pick up all these cues. And often enough, like in the movie extract mentioned earlier, everything goes awry.
Unfortunately, there are many more things to go wrong and the analysis we portrayed was overly simplistic. There is no mention of emotions, and no mention of cultural differences, or even the setting of where the communication is taking place. More importantly, there has been no mention of the difference seen in different age groups, stages of development, and relationships, like those between a parent and their child. However, this very rudimentary analysis does highlight the issue of how many things can go wrong.