Reflections on Communication

Communicating efficiently with other people is one of the hardest things to learn how to do. Language has so many nuances that are hard to interpret and convey. A simple conversation can be hard to have if two people come from different backgrounds or have different interpretations of life. Communicating can be difficult even when both parties are speaking the same language.

Communicating in a non-native language can be hard, full of misunderstandings, and fairly stressful. During our time in Uruguay, we knew that communication was hard, but we were learning, and it definitely got easier the more comfortable we became with the language. It wasn’t until we got home that we realized how stressed out we had become about communicating with people.

For months we had prepared for every conversation we needed to have with anyone. We prepared for new vocabulary. We prepared for “what ifs”. We prepared to sound as natural as possible. We did this for everyone, from the check-out lady at the grocery store to our land lady to people in retail stores. We combed the internet for phrases that might make sense in the situation we would be in. We reviewed what we would say, how we could explain things, how to ask questions. And we did this constantly.

When we got back to the states, Asa and I both found ourselves still mentally reviewing possible conversations with people in Spanish. One morning, Asa even decided not to get a haircut because it would be too difficult to explain the type of cut he wanted in Spanish… only realizing later that he wouldn’t be speaking Spanish with the lady at the barber shop. Doh! I even spoke to a waitress at the Miami airport in Spanish because I heard Spanish around me.

Once we finally convinced ourselves that speaking to people in English was easy, it was a pleasure to talk to people. More of a pleasure than we had ever realized it could be. Being able to communicate to someone exactly what we wanted, and do it easily was so gratifying. It was fun being able to talk to people. It was nice to not be stressed out about communicating with people. We no longer had to prepare for conversations, we could make last minute decisions.

Our time in Uruguay has made both of us appreciate communication in a whole new light. We commonly take communication for granted, forgetting that at some point when we were young we actually had to learn to communicate with others. The ability to communicate should not be taken for granted. It is our window to the world and without it, I imagine, we would be very lonely.

So the next time you’re at a restaurant or the check-out counter think about your ability to communicate, and do it with ease!