Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sometimes I’m surprised, and yet again I find it so funny to see how differently people assign meanings to the same strings of words, written or spoken by someone. Many books on communication will explain you about the noise in communication process, in terms of environmental disturbances and clutter created from other simultaneous messages. But very little is spoken about the noise created within the mind of the receiver. Noise created by the mental paradigms that we all are trapped as individuals.

As receivers of a communication message, we always tend to assign an interpretation of our own, to the message being communicated. This interpretation is often made biased by the mental paradigms we believe in. In other words, our interpretation and responses to the messages we receive, are often being shaped by our individual personality, exposure, expectations and sometimes even the deprived needs of our own selves.

The problem lies, at the differences in mental paradigms the sender and the receiver hold about the same message. In other words, you might not “see” what I “see”; but you will “see” something else that I never expected you to see, by hearing or reading the words I used.

To explain this further, let’s look at the “Pig Story” narrated by Joel Barker in one of his training videos.

Once upon a time, there was a young man with a very fast sports car who loved to drive on curvy country roads. One day, he was out driving his favorite road when around a curve came a car out of control. Just as they were about to collide, the car pulled back into its lane. As it passed, the driver (a lady) yelled out “PIG!!!”

Well, the young man was shocked at her insult, so before she disappeared down the road, he yelled after her “COW!!!”

He thought to himself, how dare she call me a Pig? I was in my lane. She was the one who was hogging the road. But he wasn’t too upset, because he had got his revenge, before she got away! (I shouted back “COW!!)
And so he put the accelerator to the floor, whipped his car around that curve….. and ran into the Pig!!!
That was a paradigm story (as Joel Barker narrated) . The young man was responding with old rules (that he knows well). You call me a name; I’ll call you a name. But when you think about it, the woman was really trying to help this guy, by warning him about the pig.

Next time before you interpret someone’s words; be sure you receive the message into an open mind. This will help you to avoid coming into wrong judgments of people you encounter in your day to day life. Remember, you cannot judge other people by the meanings you personally assign yourself, to the words spoken by those others. What they mean by yelling “Pig!” at you, may not always be an insult to you; but it could be sometimes a friendly warning!!!

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