I love the game Chinese Whispers - I loved it as a child and as an adult it has become something that has both amazed me and frustrated me in equal measure! I am mystified how a word or a phrase can be miscommunicated and create a whole heap of trouble - and I would go as far to say that its quite possibly the essence of all conflict in the world! But enough of the world philosophy for now...... 
How many times have you misinterpreted a message? How many times have you unintentionally miscommunicated a message? I believe that we ALL want our messages/thoughts/ideas to be shared but we all have the potential - a bit like the car analogy of it being a deadly weapon if utilised badly - to be just as 'deadly'. We could end up, through misuse, of hurting others. I am focusing on the use of words - but equally the LACK of words can create the same effect alongside the lack of ACTION - a smile, a wave, a gesture. Not phoning someone, emailing, texting, writing - it's incredible when you think about it. Spend just twenty seconds thinking about your most recent conflicts - what were they based on? That's right.....a lack of communication. 
We are finally attuned to communicate with one another and as an educator who has worked with children and young people who have learning difficulties, it is at the basis of everything that we wish them to be independently able to do. We spend an inordinate amount of time developing and teaching skills of communication that are personalised to that young person to successfully communicate. It's not easy - and we, as educators, make mistakes. However, we continue because of its importance to the self esteem of the learner. Making your wants and needs known is a vital component of human life. Without the clarity of intentional communication then we assume, we guess, we think that we know what others want to express. It never ends well when we get it wrong. 
I would state that at the moment we can see communication being utilised in a variety of ways that would indicate that we are 'at odds' - a definite legacy of a post Coronavirus world still sore from the battering that we have collectively endured across the world. I have a real sense that we are emerging from the pandemic questioning all that we have been told; and subsequently dismantling or refiguring what went before. In the UK, there appears to be an air of less deference to our politicians and leaders - Dominic Cummings did not assist in this regard(!) - and with specific reference to the daily communication briefing sessions that were central at the beginning of the lockdown, they have now lost their poignancy. Why? I would suggest that the message - and subsequent messages - have been lost in a variety of ways. The manipulation of facts, the way they have been delivered and, at times, the lack of communication has contributed to this view. However, its not just this. For years, I have lived my life as a black woman experiencing subtle, yet fairly blatant racial micro aggressions that I have had to 'suck up'. It was part of my experience so I continued to live, knowing that this was the case. I spoke to my dual heritage son about the realities of my existence and soon-to-be-his adult existence when he was a young adolescent. It didn't even occur to me NOT to communicate the realities of this aspect of our lives because I didn't want him to be underprepared. We continued to live, expecting resistance and periodically receiving it. George Floyd's senseless murder in the US at the end of May 2020 was the tipping point for black people - ALL black people. We are now communicating what needs to change. Clearly. Succinctly. There are no assumptions being made - but its surprising that clarity in communication is often perceived as aggression. It depends on the receiver I guess. 
Lockdown has been a revelation to me. It has enabled me - through knowing others and learning about new approaches - how to develop my own voice. Its also enabled me hear those who I would not ordinarily hear and to realise what they have to say - and that we have more in common than I would have ordinarily thought. The written word carries so much - and every comma, or ending of a letter or email or text message/WhatsApp message use of emoji (what did we do without emojis???) can be pored over and analysed again and again and again! I am married so do not do this anymore, but when I was single, the speed at which a potential love interest texted back was forensically scrutinised. One of the lockdown phenomena of communication etiquette has been the use of electronic platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Facebook Live, Google hangouts, FaceTime, Faceparty, YouTube and Zoom. We need non verbal cues - and we have embraced the electronic platforms available - but technology prevents the human touch so we can misinterpret the intention. Phone calls have become popular again haven't they - there's only one major sense to interpret at any one time which prevents the fatigue of trying too hard to analyse everything! And why are trying to hard? We want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want to be understood. 
There are now so many ways to communicate but what I believe we are ALL missing are the non-verbal methods - the hug, the handshake, the cuddle, the linking of arms, the high-five, the kiss. They will return - and the value that they hold will be sky-high! I doubt that we will take it for granted again! I've yet to hug my son - he went travelling in November 2019 and returned in March 2020. I've seen him but not given him a squeeze or a kiss. I'm his only parent (his father passed away nearly five years ago) so we need our non verbal connection, now more than ever. There is no substitute for physical communication. There is no real excuse for miscommunication but we do, everyday. I guess that all we can do is to aspire to be better and to be more forgiving when it goes wrong, as it can and does do. We're only human. 
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