I’ve had several conversations lately that have taken me back to my undergrad classroom. One of the most memorable lessons I have from college was from a communications course. Our professor talked about how we envision our own messages – wrapped up in beautiful packages and neatly presented to the other people in our conversation. We imagine they’ll open that box and see our message just as we intended. And more importantly, we imagine they’ll see it just as we see it, since that’s how we packed it and presented it.
But we all view what’s in the box differently. We can experience the same content, but we apply our own lenses of experience to that message. We assign intent and motive, and each message is colored by those that have come before it. Each message is received differently based on who’s opening that box. We may have similar lenses, but no two people will experience anything exactly the same.
It’s a powerful reminder that our words can carry a lot of weight, but the context of what’s around our words matters a great deal. How are you presenting your communication gifts?