This brief review of some aspects of effective communication serves to introduce the first of three conversations of my freshman college-life experience.
Conversation 1: My roommate, Greg usually watched comedy movies at night, and decided to show me one of them. After watching, I thought it was hilarious so I told him I would love to watch more sometime. A few days later, Greg invited me to watch another funny video after studying, and I agreed. He told me that the comedian was funny and I would really enjoy it. I thought that particular video was going to be more amusing than the one I had seen before. However, as I watched it, I could not find a single phrase that made me laugh, but I did not want to offend, so I faked my laughter during certain parts of the video. Certainly, Greg was mirthful, but I was completely lost. I only stared at the television, but my mind was elsewhere. At one point, Greg laughed so hard that I wondered what that was about so I pretended I did not hear the joke and asked him to rewind the CD, only for me to give a fake grin.
From the conversation, I realised I became “rhetorically sensitive” because I did not want to offend Greg. When a person is rhetorically sensitive he or she considers the condition, situation or factor of the other person before any sort of communication begins. I could have told Greg that I was tired and we could postpone watching the video. Instead, I wanted him to think I was interested and really enjoying the video although that was not the case.
Second, I realize that I had a “fake attention” the whole time my roommate and I were watching the video. Fake attention is when a person pretends to be paying attention to somebody or something, but in fact, your mind is far away from what is being said or happening. I could see myself watching the video, but I just did not understand what the comedian was saying. For one reason, I was very tired and wanted to sleep so my attention was on the sleep and not the comedy. In addition, I thought the video was boring and all my gestures were mere pretence.
Third, I applied the concept of “attribution” in the conversation. I thought the video was going to be similar to the one I watched with Greg for the very first time. I got it all wrong until I saw the next video. It was nothing similar at all.
Finally, I applied some “poor listening skills.” Immediately I heard the comedian speak, I had already drawn my conclusions that he was boring; hence I paid no attention to the message he conveyed. I saw the comedian as a nuisance and wanted him to finish quickly. I did not think I would remember anything he said.
People tend to have various audiences and purposes for which they communicate. When we engage each other in communication, it is very important to think about who the other person is and consider the likely ways they will interpret our attempts to communicate.
What situation were you in where you faked attention and realised you were totally lost or felt embarrassed at your own pretence? Did you pre-judge someone only to realise you were wrong?
WRITER: Kwame Twumasi-Ankrah | firstname.lastname@example.org