The other night I met some friends out for dinner. I arrived to the restaurant, greeted my friends and approached the hostess station to check-in. I was informed that we didn’t have a reservation. I had personally made the reservation, as we were celebrating a 50th birthday, and it was a special night! After several minutes of going back and forth with hostess and the restaurant manager, the restaurant was not going to honor our reservation. To make a long story short, we left the restaurant feeling extremely frustrated, disappointed and to be completely honest, very angry! Clearly there was a communication breakdown.
On my drive home, I played the situation over and over in my head trying to figure out where the breakdown took place. By the time I got home I was thinking about how important effective communication is and when a breakdown takes place, how it creates a great deal of frustration, disappointment and yes, even anger for all parties involved.
The truth of the matter is, there will always be breakdowns when it comes to communicating with others. We’re faced with communication breakdowns in the classroom and/or student salons on a daily basis. I think you’ll agree with me that communicating effectively with students can sometimes be challenging. The question is, what exactly creates the breakdown and more importantly, what can we do to prevent it from taking place?
First, let’s identify what a communication breakdown is. A breakdown occurs when our message isn’t received or understood properly by the receiver. There are a lot of barriers that can get in the way of properly receiving and understanding a message. Physical barriers occur, such as room temperature, distracting activities or movements, personal discomfort, and noise. Mental barriers can also get in the way. Mental barriers occur when receiver assumptions get in the way, such as vocabulary differences or even learning disabilities. Then, there are those emotional barriers such as stress, fear, anger, worry and even love! Cultural differences can also create significant communication breakdowns. One’s traditions, manners or habits can have a direct effect on how we interact with each other.
By removing as many barriers as possible from the communication process, we can certainly help prevent or eliminate those communication breakdowns.