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Got a little time to spare?  Fancy a chat? Interested in watching a couple of funny video clips and spending a few minutes thinking about them and what they tell us?

Well today I wanted to tackle the whole subject of communication and talking.  Check out these video clips with me if you will….

Here’s one from an old British sitcom – Fawlty Towers.

In this clip (actually a compilation of clips) they are dealing with an elderly lady who has hearing problems.  It’s funny isn’t it?  But what makes it funny is the fact that so many of us can relate to it can’t we?  Haven’t we all had to try to communicate with someone who has hearing difficulties?  But I wonder how funny it is to the lady with the hearing problems – and yes I know she doesn’t really help herself much – but how do you think she feels when she is constantly met with irritation and impatience?

And how about this one from “The Sketch Show”…

English can be a very hard language to understand properly can’t it?  Again this clip is humorous in several different ways.  A bunch of students all of whom have different problems learning English 🙂  But isn’t it interesting how even though they ALL have problems with English they still demonstrate intolerance towards one of the group?

And lastly here’s a completely different take on the who communication difficulties thing.  This time from a show called “Big Train” (another BBC comedy)…

It seems absurd doesn’t it?  Clearly they are all speaking fluent English (until they all start speaking fluent German) and clearly they are all communicating yet they deliberately fail to recognize that.

Communication can be a strange thing can’t it?  How often do we encounter problems just talking with each other?

Whilst the clips above are humorous and show the obvious and the bad side of communication difficulties they do contain a lot of truth don’t they?

I am by nature an observer.  If I go out anywhere I am just as happy sat back watching others interact as I am sat interacting with others myself. (Actually many times I am happier just watching others interact – but enough about my social inadequacies lol )

I tend to notice things. The way that when we meet someone who has hearing problems we often speak very loudly and often pull towards them in order to help them understand us.  I also notice how intimidating this can be sometimes, and how our frustration – even our irritation – can come across in our voices.

I also notice – and perhaps this is a British thing – how when we come across someone who is foreign and doesn’t speak our language we often do the same thing – speaking very loudly, more slowly, more deliberately.  As if that would by some magic suddenly make our foreign language more understandable to them.  And let’s be honest here – don’t we sometimes do this even when in their country and when we are the ones who are speaking the foreign language?

The way we communicate, the way we understand languages, is built – to some degree or another – on the way we construct, the way we formulate and organize our own language is it not?  To learn a different language we have to learn the way that language is constructed.  We understand and accept this do we not?

After all, don’t we, when trying to communicate with a foreigner – who hears and speaks differently to us, often try to understand things from their point of view and to look for shared commonalities and familiarities on which to build our communication?

But what if the person we are speaking to is not from a different country but instead from a  different place? What if that place is not geographically different but socially different or psychologically different?

What if the words that we are saying are not foreign to that person because they are from a different country, but instead are so very foreign to them because they simply come from a different and often so very strange a place to what that person is used to or can comprehend?

Let me repeat something I said a few paragraphs back…

“After all, don’t we, when trying to communicate with a foreigner – who hears and speaks differently to us, often try to understand things from their point of view and to look for shared commonalities and familiarities on which to build our communication?”

Do you agree with this statement?  Now let me change one key part of it and ask you to consider whether or not the statement still rings true.

After all, don’t we, when trying to communicate with someone who has mental illness or poor mental health – who hears and speaks differently to us, often try to understand things from their point of view and to look for shared commonalities and familiarities on which to build our communication?

Somehow it doesn’t feel as true does it?  Or at least I can tell you it certainly doesn’t ring so true for me – someone who does suffer from mental illness and poor mental health.

And what is more I can tell you that generally speaking the place you are coming from, the place from which you have formulated your words, your way of speaking, constructed and organized and accepted your way of communicating is so very different in part or in full to the place I came from.  My world,  how I experienced it and see it is, at least in part, so very different from yours.

Much is said, and rightly so,  about mental health and mental illness and the stigma that is often attached to it.  But I have to tell you that until we are all willing to understand where we are each coming from, until we are all willing to look for commonalities and familiarities – both the person who experiences good mental health and the person who does not – that stigma is going to continue.  And that stigma will rob each of us of so much communication and so much worth.

My world – my personal private mental, emotional, and spiritual world is not your world and your world is not my world.  But this world, this physical world we inhabit, this physical world we share together, that we physically live in together is our world.

But before it can ever be a better place we must be willing and able to share our private worlds without fear of reproach or ridicule or rejection.  To try to understand each others’ personal worlds and to do so in the hope of sharing and communicating and connecting.

And with this in mind I want to share one last video clip with you. This one is not humorous and instead carries a clear and serious message for us all.  It is by someone called Scott James and is called “Through My Eyes”.  It is recorded in order to raise Autism Awareness but the message can, in my opinion, apply to all mental health.

All I ask is that you listen to it, let the words impact your heart, and respond accordingly.

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