The Illusion of Understanding

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The Illusion of Understanding
COM200: Interpersonal Communications

The Illusion of Understanding
Effective communication is a difficult task between strangers and shockingly, even between those who have close relationships. The article titled “Close Relationships Sometimes Mask Poor Communication” reveals “people commonly believe that they communicate better with close friends than with strangers.” (Boaz Keysar) Researchers conducting a study involving couples disproved this belief. After reading this article it is my belief that effective communication is not the sole responsibility of the sender. It takes a good listener (a receiver) to properly understand the meaning of what it being said.

Prior to reading this article, my personal experience regarding communicating with close friends and family has not always been accurate. I feel that I fall victim to the illusion of understanding or as Keysar would suggest, the “closeness-communication bias.” I get trapped in a comfortable feeling, whereas I feel that those who know me best, will be better at interrupting what I am trying to convey. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, resulting in miscommunications and frustrations.

The article references a specific couple within the study conducted, where the woman says to her husband, “it’s getting hot in here.” Her comment was an indirect suggestion for her husband to turn on the air conditioning. Instead, he interrupted her comment as a flirty, sexual advance. When I read this, my eyes rolled to the back of my head as if to say “Ugh… men!” However, I can’t blame him for his interpretation. Perhaps, had his wife been more direct and forward, she would have limited the amount of assumptions he could make with such a broad statement. I also raise the question, was that what he truly understood her statement to mean, or was that what he wanted her statement to mean? If a female co-worker had mentioned, “it’s hot in...
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