HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

A Cry on Deaf Ears

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From my teen years onward, not only have I learned not only the value of having your voice heard but also listening to others. I have learned that there is a difference between hearing someone and actually listening to them. Despite it being taken for granted , Listening is actually a deep and intricate process that is beneficial to communication. I feel that active listening is the best practice of empathy. When we listen to others we tune into and take notice of what is someone is expressing to us verbally and nonverbally. When some sort of a mutual understanding is reached, I feel that conflict or distress may be averted. In other words, I feel that a resolution can be reached by using active listening. One would think that active listening would be easier and happen more frequently among people that you are closer to, like friends and family. But we are all only human and prone to error of all sorts. Recently, when I tried to convey something important to friends of mine, my plea fell on deaf ears.
My friends and I are very laid back and “cool” with each other. We frequently joke around with each other and openly discuss a wide variety of topics. However, in spite of this, I am called the “saint” of the group because I am the most reserved. Our main channel of communication is a group text on our cell phones. My friends have a habit of “roasting” each other, or using light-hearted insults to tease and amuse the group in good humor. However this seems to get out of hand every now and then. Sometimes, my friends go too far with their humor.  Two of my friends made a very awful “joke” about cancer by wishing it on another friend in the group text. That really struck a nerve in me for a number of reasons. I am a compassionate human being with the sense to NEVER joke around about something so terrible. I immediately expressed my disapproval and disgust at what my friends said. I did so politely but solemnly. I expressed to one of my friends how cancer is not a joke. It is not a joke whenit literally eats away at you, literally takes your life. When it robs you of your loved ones and devastates family. I expressed that I have seen friends and family suffer from cancer and that joke was extremely offensive. I went as far to divulge that I lost my father to cancer at a very young age. Upon releasing all this to my friends, I received negative feedback. I got no apology for their misdeed or assurance that they would never make such jokes again. I got a dry, “Okay, for sure”.
This negative feedback upset me further, adding insult to injury. I haven’t spoken with these friends since. From this incident I have learned that negative feedback has the capacity to be destructive and not constructive. Never upon insulting someone have I been so curt and unyielding.
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