Smirking From Home

Turning ideas into words.

Speaking in Tongues

People complain in this day and age about an increasing lack of verbal communication in society. Seemingly we are all to busy sowing the seeds of arthritis in our thumbs or rubbing the grammar police up the wrong way with our e-mails. Honestly speaking, I’m not entirely sure on which side of the fence I’d like to be situated. Sadly the option of sitting on said fence would be a painful one as it’s pointy and rusty with a likelihood of contracting septicemia.
Ah feck it. I’m going to nail my colours to the mast. I genuinely believe we actually communicate more these days than we’ve ever done before. This is mainly due the means we have at our disposal in order to be able to contact each other: to send and receive instructions; to arrange gatherings or to simply have a good old bitch about him, her and the neighbour’s parakeet. Some methods are electronic, others software based. All are fairly modern and the scourge of the letter-writing mafia. I agree it’s nice to receive a letter from someone but it’s a pain in the backside writing one when one has a Blackberry instead. Mind you, I am slightly saddened that the art of crafting a letter has died, mainly as it’s impacted on the quality of our e-mails as well. We’re losing the ability to remember where to insert a full stop instead of a comma. I’ve read opinions on numerous public forums where even commas were conspicuous by their absence. Comma Comma Comma Comma Comma Chameleon you might say. However, the quality of internet commentary from Joe Public is a topic for another time.
What inspired today’s choice of topic I ask myself, especially as it’s one which has more questions than answers. Robert was sitting on my lap the other day soon after finishing having his beak stuffed with powdered watery milk. As happy as a pig in the proverbial, he started his usual gabbling, using a plethora of squeaks, squawks, goos and gaas. Naturally I return the compliments using an adult interpretation of baby chat, with the odd raspberry thrown in. Hey, anything for a smile. Beats having a gowling Wurlitzer on yer knee any day. It occurred to me that this was verbal communication in its’ purest form. Okay, neither of us had a baldy what the feck we were saying but there was a mutual understanding that we were enjoying ourselves and as such we would continue blathering away to each other. The wee fella has had a cold these last few days and I fear he thinks he’s Welsh. That’s not a huge problem per se but I’m buggered if I’m going to help him with his spellings when he grows up.
The important thing about verbal communication is that once we’re finished relaying information, we can understand each other. Since I left high school my whole life has been about communicating with people. Yet, unlike yabbering away with Robert and Eloise before him, there have been many times when I’ve mentally held my head on my hands, wondering what the bloomin’ heck has just happened. For almost eight years, I was an employee of the Prudential, explaining to people as nicely as possible that they may have been mis-sold their endowment policy. The call centre I worked in naturally covered the whole of the UK and all its regional dialects. Source of the problem number one. I’ll freely admit to failing a few times in fathoming what a Geordie might have been telling me. Mind you, I’ve heard my own brogue played back on tape, and I can sympathise with anyone who I’ve spoken to in the past. A face for radio maybe, unfortunately not the voice. Yes, yes. I know that ultimately we ended up singing off the same hymn sheet but the journey was often fraught with tension and mistrust, mainly on the customer’s part. Apparently having an Irish accent meant I was going to either sell their policy details to the Russians or tarmac their driveways.
In spite of this, I have a profound admiration for those who work in call centres as it’s the most thankless task in this day and age. Long ago, if you worked in customer service it was face to face or via the mail. Nowadays, thanks to modern technology, it’s right here, right now or I’ll ask to speak to your manager. A no win situation. Damned if you do and action-planned if you don’t. Funnily enough, my approach 99% of the time was to whisht them with politeness. It’s a great weapon these days to be polite to someone. It can totally diffuse a potential argument at the drop of a hat. Even better, it can disarm an obnoxious buffoon, the type who believes that if you swear and shout loudly enough, someone would gladly bend over to help them. Sad really. The telephone is a wonderful tool to help people with their lives and yet many have no clue how to use it properly. It’s more than pushing a few buttons folks.
The problem isn’t the methods of communication at our disposal nowadays, it’s the language we use. Jargon is the curse of human kind. Performance Management is a good example, a euphemism for berating, motivating, psychologically manipulating, threatening, and then firing someone. In even simpler terms, buck up or yer out. Apparently it’s acceptable human nature to confuse each other with big words, terms and conditions. Is it so hard to simplify things? I’m not advocating we all speak in text lingo. We may as well have lobotomies if we go down that road. That form of language is not required to bring our communications to a more eloquent yet comprehensible level. As I write this I feel I’m opening a few cans of worms above and beyond what I had initially anticipated. Consequently I’m going to leave them for another day, to be addressed when my brain can make sense of it all.
I blame the baby talk.

February 17, 2010 - Posted by | Bringing Up Baby, Communicating | ,


  1. […] has stopped shitting in the window box is not newsworthy. Unless you work for ITV. Yesterday the waffling was about communication and how I felt we should bring things back to basics, make our messages to […]

    Pingback by What’s on your mind? » The Life of Mags | October 19, 2011 | Reply

  2. […] has stopped shitting in the window box is not newsworthy. Unless you work for ITV. Yesterday the waffling was about communication and how I felt we should bring things back to basics, make our messages to […]

    Pingback by What’s On Your Mind? « Smirking From Home | October 19, 2011 | Reply

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