George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
I can attest to that. One day, as I was headed to the grocery store, my husband asked me to bring back some chips. We almost never have any kind of chips in our house, so I agreed.
Upon my return home, he popped the question, “Did you get some chips?”
“I did.” I proudly said, plucking a bag from my groceries.
“What are those?” he inquired with a frown.
“Veggie chips,” I replied. “They’re good.”
“Yeah. They look good,” he said doubtfully. “But I was thinking more like potato chips.”
And there you have it... the illusion that communication had taken place. My husband said bring back chips. I brought back chips. We thought we’d communicated, but in reality, neither one of us knew what the other was talking about.
This illusion of communication is also known to happen between our brains and our speech. We don’t always say what we intend. My husband can attest to that. It happened to him at an Italian restaurant.
After a quick glance at the menu, he said to the waiter, “I’ll have the rigatoni. Make it a large.”
But when the rigatoni arrived, a look of shock took over my husband’s face. “I ordered the ravioli,” he said confidently.
“I’m sorry, sir. But you ordered the rigatoni,” the waiter replied.
“You did,” I said regretfully. “I heard you.”
“Yeah,” his nephew chimed in. “You ordered the ‘LARGE’ rigatoni.”
My husband was baffled. He knew he wanted the “ravioli.” He knew he was thinking “ravioli.” Even his brain was under the illusion that he would say “ravioli.” But something went amiss, and through no fault of his own, he ended up with a large order of rigatoni.
I bet if he had pointed to the words “Large Ravioli” on the menu, he would have gotten it. Maybe body language is the way to go: a wave is a wave, a smile a smile, and a hug a hug.
Think about it. Somehow our moms figured out how to communicate with us before we were able to talk. They knew what we wanted and when we wanted it. They must be some of the world’s most intuitive and instinctive communicators. And that is not an illusion.
Happy, happy Mother’s Day to my mom and moms everywhere.