Communication – What happens when it breaks down?
I know I said I would be talking about my observations of non-verbal communication today, but something came up this week that I have been thinking a lot about and it ties in with communication so I am going to blog about that this week and come back to my observations next week. Plus that will just give me more time to observe. So today I am going to write about what happens when there is communication breakdown.
We’ve all been there you think you told someone something and you didn’t or the way you said something led the listener to misinterpret your meaning. This happens all the time on a day to day basis. Most of the time this isn’t a big deal and can be easily corrected. Unfortunately sometimes it can cause a problem, hurt someone’s feelings or make someone mad. It can become an even bigger issue if it happens over and over again.
In my job here in the schools one of my responsibilities is to oversee the para-professionals that work with our autism spectrum disorder students in the general education setting. This week a para-pro switch was made without consulting me. I found out second hand that this was happening. Ultimately the principal and special education director are responsible for assignments and determining where the greatest need is at the time which is great and I don’t want that responsibility. It just makes it difficult when the lines of communication don’t always flow smoothly. It makes planning hard and breaks down trust and respect. The funny thing is that this situation ties in directly with appraisal which is what Michelle blogged about yesterday. If a little appraisal had taken place earlier then this situation could have been handled a bit better and it wouldn’t have been a case of needing to put a fire out, but preventing the fire from happening in the first place.
I think about this in terms of the communication difficulties that our students on the spectrum have and what happens when we are not able to communicate clearly with them. How frustrating that must be and no wonder they go back to static patterns. My reaction when things like this happen is to be mad or upset and to then sometimes just not care (which isn’t really the best reaction, but a human one). If that is my reaction then no wonder our students on the spectrum react the way they do.
Okay, enough complaining on my part. I challenge each of you to really think about your communication. Are you being clear, is there some other way of saying what you need to say, have you communicated with everyone necessary in that particular situation? Next week back to observing non-verbal communication.
Talk to you soon,