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July 2000 - Communicating in Circles

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July 2000

Communicating in Circles

Some years ago when I was a professor of Speech Communication at the University of Missouri in Columbia, I called my wife, Ann, and asked her to pick me up at the circle drive near Switzler Hall where my office was located.  I wasn't thinking very clearly, for there were two circle drives. One was a handy little circle that came right up to the back door.  The other was a larger more impressive drive that came within fifty yards of the front door.  People often drove up to the front drive to get a scenic view of the old red brick campus complete with the huge Ionic columns associated with the campus.

 Well, you guessed it.  I went to the smaller less impressive drive.  Ann went to the larger one.  About the same time we both figured out what happened.  I came around to the front of the building just in time to see her pull away.  Even then I didn't figure where she was headed.  After a few trips back and forth, we finally got together.  Since then, when things aren't clear one of us asks, "Just which circle drive are you talking about?"

Having a PhD in communication does not mean that I always communicate effectively.  But through the years I have learned many things about communication that I often share in my speeches.  Here is one.  Ask yourself, "What do the words mean to the other person, not what do they mean to me." 

Effective communication begins with our understanding of the other person.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

July 2000 - Communicating in Circles
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