Providing Context – a fundamental communication skill

Context – Simple version. The container that holds the text.

But we get this wrong so many times, and the result…misunderstanding, broken hearts, polarisation, war, death…

Nothing ever occurs in isolation. There is always a container that holds the text. The story. The reason why. The source code. Context.

Truth is, if you do not provide your own context other people will make up a context that suits them.

And here in lies human disaster, endless time wasted, pain, suffering, and very bad decisions.

It plays out like this. You make a statement. It has no context. People will make up their own context. You feel misunderstood. Feelings get hurt. The suffering can be small, or last through history. (Think any religion and the context of their theology. Aka The Bible, The Koran.)

Journalists use this to sell sensation. And we suckers buy it…hook line and sinker…never bothering to check the context.

What can we do.

  1. Provide context. “I make this judgement based on…” Give up wild arsed statements without grounding it in context.
  2. Never assume anyone elses context. Ask them for it. (see conversation for understanding)

This takes work. But then human communication and meaning making is work. Like all relationships. It is when we fail to be a conscious communicator, either unaware of or unconcerned about the effects of our words, that we set into motion consequences that we may not have intended.

 

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