Thursday, August 27, 2009

User manual communication

Everyone who has ever felt this way, raise your hand:

I feel misunderstood!!
I feel frustrated in my relationships with people!!
Why bother, they don't get it anyway!!

This weekend, for the first time since I've had my hi-fi, I sat down and really made a conscious effort to read the user manual from front to back. While doing so I discovered some functions that my system had that I would never have known about had I not read the manual. I also discovered some things I should NOT do in order to have optimal use of my system.

In the same way we as people are the verbal user manual for those around us. It is our responsibility to instruct/teach people how to treat us as unique individuals in order to bring out the best in us. No one knows you as well as you do. People can't read your mind. You need to verbalise (communicate) who you are in order for people to treat you in a way that you approve of. What do you like? What do you dislike? What makes you tick?

I've heard many people say the following: "Do I have to spell out everything?!" My answer to this is YES. You have to say it. That is part of communicating. If you refuse to do so you are setting a trap for someone, silently watching and waiting for them to trip and fall so that you can justify your expression of dissatisfaction, when in fact you have no right, because you didn't instruct. If you choose not to say it, how were they supposed to know it? Also don't be surprised if you need to say it a few times. Often one has to go back to the manual several times before getting it completely right. Be patient and say it.

In the same way you need to say it, it is also the responsibility of those who you are saying it to, to LISTEN. There is no sense in reading a manual and ignoring everything in it. If you do whatever you want you can't expect the same results as specified in the manual had you followed the instructions. For e.g. if someone say that they don't like dogs, don't buy them a puppy as a birthday gift. I wouldn't be surprised if they are not overwhelmed with joy and your feelings are hurt. You ignored the "manual". We need to ask ourselves: Are our actions often selfishly more to our own benefit than unselfishly to the benefit of the other? I LIKE DOGS, so I buy you one, when in fact you are, unlike me, a bird lover.

I've owned this hi-fi for just over two years now and for the first time I realised how valuable that piece of equipment actually was. All just because of taking the time to read the manual, instructing me how to enjoy optimal use of my system. I thought to myself: "Now this is value for money and all along I've only used the basic functions of playing the radio, tape and CD."

All hi-fi systems can do the basic functions such as tuner, tape and CD. They can all rewind, forward, play, etc. In the same way certain basic things work with all people. When it actually comes down to more detail that is where our uniqueness is found. Smiling friendly will get you far with most people. Thereafter it becomes more detailed. Some people prefer a warm hug hello and others prefer a handshake. Others kiss on the cheek and others rather avoid any physical contact because that is what they are comfortable with. The unique additional functions determine one to be a better or more practical buy than the next. In the same way it is our uniqueness that distinguish one person from another. Therefore "read the manual".

Often times we don't realise the value of someone and we walk away because to the average man this looks like just another piece of equipment, same as all the rest. Just another person, nothing special. In the meantime we could have discovered the most valuable treasures had we taken the time to "read the manual", really listen to someone, and find out how to enjoy that person at his best. And what is more satisfying than being treated in a way that makes you blossom, all because you were the verbal manual to someone else.

Take time today to instruct, to listen, to communicate meaningfully...


Immortal said...

I was right, I did enjoy reading this one! Do you know why I love children so much? Besides the obvious reasons....Coz of their basic needs and Innocence. They ask why a hundred times so that we can explain it till there is nothing left to explain.

Sometimes I go back to being a child myself in an argument with someone and ask them why, why do it this way, why say it that way, why be there or why not? Sometimes the most enjoyable feeling after a long and hard day is the conversation that had meaning. So I agree, spell it out to me, not because I'm stupid, but because we are different and unique and I will never understand you better if you don't spell it out to me. Pretend I'm blind and paralyzed and spell it out to me, describe every detail to me so I can almost taste it, feel it or experience at least some small part of it with you.... Thanks for sharing Lee, as always it's a pleasure reading your thoughts.

Liane de Witt said...

When we speak, we share ourselves. We open ourselves up to other people. I have realized that with myself. If I don't feel safe to allow someone near I keep quiet (whereas I can talk till kingdom come under other circumstance). I am basically denying you access to me. However, if you really care about a particular relationship and you want it to flourish, then you short circuit the process by blocking them out in not opening yourself up through communication. What the heart is full of, is what will bubble out of your mouth. I cannot read your mind... you've gotta make the decision to take the risk and let me in by sharing your thoughts, feelings, etc. by verbalizing (which is usually the main way), but don't forget that people communicate with all 5 of their senses.

For me it is also similar to a plant. If you want it to grow, water it, give it good soil, compost, sunlight, etc. If you want it to die, then don't. But don't think that you can want it to grow, but follow the recipe for it dying, and think you're going to get the result of a nurtured plant. You're not! Blossom - feed it / Wither & die - DON'T feed it.

It's important that we make a conscious decision. Not watering because you just let it float downstream will also give you the result of death. So, unless that is what you want, you have to make a concerted effort, or don't be surprised.

If a relationship really matters to both parties involved you will make the time and do the effort - It is work, but it will turn out to be fulfilling, beautiful and worth the investment for sure; you'll be glad you did it.

AND... you won't be the only one :) Someone else will feel valued for being allowed to be near and both parties will be richer for it.