Over 85% of your words get lost. They are wasted on deaf ears, hidden agendas, wandering minds, good intentions, and the low fidelity of human memory. I made the 85% number up, but it can’t be far off. If you think my guess is unreasonable let me try to distort your reality.
The reason you think 85% seems high is because we are almost always unaware of our own failures to communicate. In our minds our thoughts are perfectly formed, brilliant insights that we bless our friends, family, and co-workers with.
Even if we are self-aware enough to realize we regularly botch the delivery of our ideas we still expect the person on the other side to get the general gist of our message.
But they don’t. We take their smiles and friendly nods to mean comprehension but in reality they are thinking,
I wonder if he means…
At which point they squirt their own idea dressing on top of your word salad.
We end up oblivious of the illusion, inhabiting a cartoon bubble where each of us carries a different reality in our heads. The cartoon bubble pops when the inevitable breakdown happens.
“You never told me that.”
“Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“Why didn’t you say so sooner?”
“Where is this coming from?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“How can you believe that?”
“That’s news to me.”
Start paying attention to situations when you hear phrases like this. It is part of recalibrating your pattern recognition machine. Denials like this happen all the time and they are evidence of two conflicting realities colliding. Most people will deny that they are bad communicators and scoff at the possibility that they are failing to absorb the data directed towards them. But not you. Now that you are looking for evidence of communication leakage you will notice it everywhere.
Once you are aware of the rampant communication leakage happening all around you it is time to take advantage of this knowledge. You can’t increase the percentage of intake from others, but you can improve your sensitivity to the incoming data that you are currently missing. Even if you can capture an additional 2% of the data leakage, you will have a big advantage over the people oblivious to the movie playing in their heads and their ability to break their skull’s fourth wall.
Eventually you will become bobblehead buddha, aware of the flow of information, capable of bending reality instead of being bent by it. You will start to notice the information gaps. You will be able to predict collapses. You will influence decision makers (without them even realizing it). You will head-off inevitable breakdowns. You might even develop a reality distortion field.
Thanks for reading. You should follow me because I leak ideas like this every weekend and you don’t want to miss the next one. Stay creative.