For reasons that remain mysterious to me, in my youth I never considered the formal study of communications. This is not to say that I have not always been interested in an implicit way in the problems of communication, not least in my own life and with those immediately around me and those I observed. It is just that until my 30’s I never once took a course or read a book about the subject as a whole, which is a blind spot I consider to be particularly puzzling in light of the nearly continual way that problems of communication find themselves impacting my life over and over again. It is not necessarily that communication is always a problem–although sometimes it is–it is more that so many issues are impacted by problems in communication, and it is a skill that seems to be pretty woefully lacking not merely in socially awkward people like myself but nearly everywhere one turns, where communication impacts how we feel loved or respected or don’t and how these tend to reverberate into larger and more intractable problems that individuals and groups have with each other.
Yesterday night after dinner I logged into my work webpage and found that the login process had changed and that it was impossible for me to either clock-in or to submit my timesheet for the previous week at work. Much to my irritation, I found that the same thing had been the case today when I logged in. As it happened, my supervisor was gone for the day so I was unable to get in touch with her to see what was going on, and it was only after digging around in the site myself for some time that I saw that I had been changed from hourly to salary starting January 1, without anyone communicating that this had taken place or would take place as part of the transition from my previous company to the company that bought out the one I had been working last year. There are all kinds of conversations here that could have happened but did not happen that could have communicated to me that my job equivalent in the new company was salary exempt and not hourly non-exempt as had been the case before, so that I would be aware of what changes were going on, but no one thought it necessary to communicate that this was the case and what the obvious ramifications of that change happening would be. Color me unimpressed.
Tonight, while I was having dinner, I received a text message about people wanting the lyrics to the song that I am planning to sing at our upcoming variety show at church. As it happens, there are quite a few songs with that title, and not all of them would be appropriate to sing for a public gathering. It appears that there was some question as to which song by the title that I chose I was singing, and no one thought to ask me directly about it until now. When I had sent the backing track to the people who were organizing the event, it became clear to at least some of them that I was singing a song with one set of lyrics and approach that was not the same as some others that people had been looking up, apparently with some concern. While it is by no means unusual that people should look up things and discuss things without bringing them up to the person that they are searching about, it would be a good habit to do so as there are a great many things that can be cleared up in the course of seconds with the person involved rather than leading to doubts and concerns or even worse, rather prejudicial opinions, in the absence of such conversations.
Also tonight, while I was eating dinner, I was having a conversation with the bartender at the restaurant where I was eating (and where I usually sit at the bar and eat chicken parmesan with salad and bread and drink ice water and sweet tea over the course of the meal), and she commented how it was that she wanted her guests to go home so she could resume her normal hermit-like existence at home, and that her guests from Virginia had stayed long because of the snowstorm that had hit that area and made it impossible for them to fly out as they had expected. She found herself frustrated by the family drama that was involved in having various family members stay with her, found their loud conversations and heavy tread on the ceiling of her basement room stressful, and found herself unable to sleep and feeling constantly on edge by having others around when she prefers a more quiet and solitary existence. Being a person who is often fond of quite solitary and hermit-like conditions, I could definitely relate. Still, there were a lot of conversations here that were simply not happening about how stressful someone found it to be hosting family for longer than expected, especially when relations within the family were not that good.