Do you sleep warm or cold?
That was the question my hostess asked as she prepared my bed the night I stayed at her home in Santa Monica.
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even understand the question! Did she mean do I get warm and therefore don’t want a lot of blankets, or do I get cold and therefore want extra comforters? Or just the opposite?
She knew exactly what she meant, but her words didn’t convey the meaning clearly to me, her listener. And I, trying to be the perfect low-maintenance guest, didn’t ask her what she meant. I just said “warm,” figuring it would be easy enough to adjust things myself during the night if they weren’t right. (So much for being a professional communicator!)
How often during each day do we run into situations like that? We say something we understand, and our listener either hears something else and responds, or doesn’t understand but acts as if they do. How much actual communication is going on versus words being babbled? My husband and I sometimes repeat back to each other what we think the other has just said. It’s amazing how often we’re wrong! We’re now trying to be much clearer in the way we word things, to make sure that what we say is what the other person hears — and understands. Not a bad goal — at home, at work, and in the world at large!