Sunday, October 14, 2007

You mean you can't read my mind?

Once again, I've had it hammered into my head that communication is important. The problem always boils down to me thinking that people can read my mind. In my traditional step-wise approach to problem solving, I hunted for a first step to take. For this first step, I chose to answer the question, "Who needs to know what I'm thinking and doing?"

At this point in my life, it seems that I've got to communicate with a lot of people. It's far from an isolated time.

At the very minimum, I've got to communicate with my girlfriend, my family, my housemates, my co-workers, and my customers. That's a lot of communicating to do — and this is just the bare minimum to get by. It's hard to even address this bare minimum.

Now for the second step: given this narrowed down set of people to communicate with, what potential problems are there? The answer to this is different for each party concerned.

For example, with my girlfriend, I've got to pick the right words and be sensitive to what she's feeling. As a guy and as a software engineer who gets very absorbed in my work, this is difficult. So I turn to literary giants such as Tolstoy and Hugo to teach me how to express myself.

With my co-workers and customers, I've found that the biggest hindrance to my communicating effectively is that things get too busy and I just want to cross items off the to-do list. Often, that's not enough in a business environment because people have to be aware of what you're doing. Often times, communicating means slowing down to express myself. This is at the expense of absolute personal productivity, but in a team environment this is necessary overhead.

I have yet to figure out what keeps me from calling my mother more often. I've just moved into a new house so I'll have to figure out how to communicate with the housemates. It's funny because people can live together while not communicating at all.

Here's to good communication and not expecting people to read my mind.