Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How to Overcome Communication Mismatch





Suppose you are talking to someone 
 say your colleague  or your spouse – or your kid  or your friend – or even a stranger. 

Communication is a 
two way process

Assume that there are two of you talking to each other 
– engaging in interpersonal communication. 

 when you speak to someone – you will be watching her – and observing her body language  and similarly  she in turn will be doing the same.

So interpersonal communication will comprise not only verbal speech 
– but non-verbal cues as well. 

Let us assume that 
– you say something to the person in front of you – and she says something back to you in reply. 

There will be six messages present in this person-to-person communication process:

1. What you MEAN to say

2. What you ACTUALLY say

3. What the other person HEARS

4. What the other person THINKS is heard

5. What the other person SAYS

6. What you THINK the other person says

Interpretation of Communication (deriving messages from a communication) depends on many factors 
– ranging from intellectual to emotional to cognitive  all these factors form your MENTAL FILTER.

How you interpret a communication depends on your mental filters at that point of time 
– which  apart from your intellectual, emotional and cognitive aspects  is also governed by various factors  like your mood, quality and type of relationship with the other person – and  the environment in which the communication is taking place.

 it is similar for the other person talking to you.

In order to reduce communication mismatch 
 it is essential that your mental filter is in sync with the person talking to you – and vice versa

– there will be ambiguities in the messages exchanged – and this may have undesirable ramifications  and  at times  may even lead to discord and conflict.


Let me try to explain this with an illustrative example: 

Imagine that a husband and wife are driving right across Pune 
– from Wakad to Koregaon Park – one evening – for a party.

Their car crawls at snail’s pace in the heavy traffic on the busy crowded roads of Pune 
 a city where traffic is the worst nightmare  especially in peak hours like evenings. 

The car is waiting at a red traffic signal.

Suddenly – the traffic signal turns green. 

The wife says to her husband: 

“The signal has become green...!!!”

 in his mind’s eye  the husband can interpret this simple communication from his wife in a number of ways.

The way in which he interprets this simple statement made by his wife 
– depends on his mental filter at that point of time. 

The husband
s response to his wifes simple statement will depend on how he interprets his wife's communication 
– which in turn will depend on his mental filter (at the point of time). 

Here are a few examples of how the husband will interpret his wife
s simple communication (“The signal has become green...!”) 
– and how the husband may reply back to his wife: 

1. One husband may think his wife means to say: 

“Can’t you see...? The traffic light has turned green...!!!”

he may retort angrily to his wife:  

“Of course I can see that the light has turned green  I am not blind...!!!”

 the wife merely said: “The signal has become green...!!!”. 

The wife never stated that her husband is blind...)

2. Another husband may think his wife is hurrying him up 
– and he interpret the meaning of what his wifes communication as: 

“Come on  you slow-poke  hurry up  we are already late...!!!” 

On interpreting his wifes communication in this fashion 
 the husband may snap back at his wife: 

“Don’t unnecessarily hustle me  let me drive properly...!!!”

 the wife merely said: “The signal has become green...!!!”.

The wife never stated that her husband is a slow-poke and drives too slowly...) 

3. A third “hen-pecked” husband may assume that his wife has started off her nagging again.

 this husband will say irritably to his wife: 

“Stop your nagging and backseat driving – why don’t you drive the car yourself instead of passing comments...?”

 the wife merely said: “The signal has become green...!!!”

The wife just wanted to draw the attention of her husband to the traffic signal 
 she had no intention of nagging him...)

 in each of these three cases above – on hearing her husband’s remarks  the wife may either choose to remain silent – or she may “appropriately” respond to the husband’s comments and give him a “befitting reply

If she decides to retort 
 the husband may reply back. 

And then – the conversation will go on and on. 

The result will be that more “heat” and less “light” is generated – leading to a heated argument – which may escalate into a fight between husband and wife.

What happens if a husband just ignores the wife’s remarks 
– he remains silent – and he says nothing...?

 the wife may interpret her husband’s silence in a number of ways – depending on her mental filter – and she will respond accordingly – and she may say something to her husband again. 

– the wife too may remain silent  like her husband. 

This silence of both husband and wife may result in breakdown of verbal communication  though  non-verbal communication may continue.

 SILENCE is a very effective way of conveying non-verbal messages 

Sometimes  silence can be quite powerful too  like they say “a deafening silence”...!!!

Whichever way the wife chooses to give her husband a 
“befitting reply
”  this may provoke the husband further – and the “communication” cycle will continue.


Interpretation of communication 
 drawing inferences – it all depends on your mental filters  doesn’t it...? 

Your mental filters “colour” your cognition 
– and influence your interpretation of the message in a communication due to various biases or prejudices. 

The sine qua non for Effective Communication is Harmony of Mental Filters

– if there is a Mismatch in Mental Filters – the result is Misinterpretation of Messages – due to persons interpreting “Implied Meanings – where there were none.

Like we highlighted in the example of communication between husband and wife 
 repeated misinterpretation of communication can snowball and spiral into an unhealthy communication cycle  and this can damage inter-personal relationships both at work and at home. 

For example 
 in a marriage  repeated misinterpretation of mutual communication between husband and wife  due to mismatch in mental filters  may cause disharmony in the relationship  and lead to marital discord  which in turn may snowball into disastrous consequences  and which can  in extremis – even lead to breakdown of the marriage.

 before you communicate with someone  at work, in society and at home  make sure that your mental filters are in sync with each other (mutually synchronized).

– when you talk to someone – you will mean something – but the other person will interpret something else  and this may create serious misunderstandings.

 there are six messages present in a person-to-person communication process

– when you are talking to someone  both of you must make sure that you are in perfect sync” with each other – so that there is no ambiguity or confusion – and you achieve seamless effective inter-personal communication.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

1. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

“Vultures” – Short Story

Short Fiction 


The old man was dying in hospital.

Everyone wanted him to die.

Except me. 

I did not want him to die.

I was the only one who did not want him to die.

I wanted him to live – because I would lose everything if he died.

They wanted him to die – because they would gain something from his death.  

Like vultures  circling around their prey  these human “vultures” waited for him to die  so that they could swoop down and grab their pound of flesh.

I did not want anything.

I did not want any “pound of flesh”.

I just wanted my old man to come back to me  hale and hearty.

I dreaded to imagine what would happen to me  if the old man died.

I looked at all the human “vultures” – eagerly waiting to seize their share in the “pie”. 

And – it was a huge pie  because the old man was very rich and wealthy. 

He was a self-made man. 

He had earned all his wealth slogging it out – sailing on the high seas – for over 40 years.

I did not want any share in the pie. 

I just wanted my old man to live. 

The old man was the only thing I had in this world. 

Without him  I had nothing to live for. 

I hoped and prayed that this time too it would be a false alarm  like so many times before  and my old man would come back to me hale and hearty  like he always did.

We all waited on the spacious verandah of his majestic bungalow – the old man’s most prized possession – a magnificent mansion on the banks of the Mula river near Wakad with a huge compound enclosing the vast expanse of land. 

The old man had bought the land for a pittance more than 30 years ago  when Wakad was a nondescript remote village in the back of beyond  some distance away from the town of Pune.

On this huge plot of land – he had built a beautiful bungalow on the banks of the Mula River.

The old man loved to be close to nature  and  during his vacations ashore from sea  he had spent his time hiking  and rowing his boat on the river.

Now  everything had drastically changed.

Wakad was now an up-market suburb of Pune and a most sought after destination owing to its proximity of the InfoTech Park at Hinjewadi where thousands of young upwardly mobile overpaid “Techies” (IT Nerds and Software Geeks) worked.

The old man’s bungalow was called Anchorage

Till a few years ago  Wakad was a solitary place.

But  with the advent of the Information Technology and Software Industry in Pune  there was an IT Boom” – which resulted in the “Real Estate Boom” – and there was fervent construction activity all over Wakad.

Soon  the sprawling bungalow was surrounded by posh high rises and residential townships. 

For the last few years so many persons, promoters, builders  even his own kith and kin  had their eyes set on this prime property. 

For them it was an eyesore  a huge undeveloped piece of land in the centre of lucrative real estate.

Over the last few years  so many builders and developers had tempted the old man with the best of deals. 

They offered him the choicest of apartments in Pune and Mumbai. 

They said they would give him hard cash if he wanted  lots of cash. 

They even tried to coerce him  with subtle threats and hints of intimidation.

But the old man would not budge  and he had firmly refused to sell his bungalow.

Only I knew the real reason why the old man did not want to sell his bungalow.

Yes – only I knew why he preferred to live a lonely life in this desolate mansion  rather than shift to the comfort of a modern high-rise apartment in the heart of the Pune.

Some thought he was a shrewd man.

The more he held on to his bungalow, the more the price would increase. 

A few years ago the offers were in Lakhs of Rupees  but today  the price of this prime real estate was worth Crores of Rupees  many crores  maybe 10 Crore  20 Crore  maybe even more.

That was the reason why all the “vultures” had gathered. 

No one was willing to forfeit their share of this bonanza – they were sure to get at least an apartment in the township which would come up here or maybe enough money to buy a flat wherever they wanted. 

And maybe  they would get a share in his wealth too. 

Hardly anyone ever visited the old man in his bungalow  but now as he lay dying in the hospital  so many relatives and well-wishers had appeared out of nowhere.

In fact  they had all rushed to the hospital and crowded the ICU eagerly awaiting the news of the old man’s death  but the doctors had thrown them out of the hospital.

The doctors had allowed no one to enter the old man’s ICU room and sit beside him except his best friend and a long time shipmate  who the old man jokingly called Captain Haddock.

That’s why all of them impatiently waited at the old man’s bungalow in anticipation of  the “good” news.

The old man had been fallen ill many times before  he had been admitted to ICU a couple of times too  he had given them so many false alarms  but this time they hoped that he would die, once and for all.

Suddenly  I saw Captain Haddock’s car enter the porch. 

He got out the car walked towards the verandah.

“What happened?” they all eagerly asked him the moment he entered the verandah, hoping to hear the “good” news.

“His condition is the same.”

“Why don’t they remove life support?” the old man’s son, who had flown down from Delhi asked.

“You go to the hospital and ask them,” Captain Haddock said angrily, “The best doctors in town are being consulted. The top specialist is coming over from Mumbai and if required we will fly your father in an air ambulance to Delhi or wherever required, even abroad, for the best of treatment. We will make all out efforts till the very end to save his life. I have told them not to worry about the money.”

“Not to worry about money? You told them not to worry about money?”

“It’s not your money,” Captain Haddock shouted at the old man’s son, “The hospital bills are being paid from the old man’s own hard earned money. I have a Power Of Attorney for that, so you don’t worry.”

“It’s not that,” interjected the old man’s daughter. She had come all the way from Bangalore.

“It is precisely that,” Captain Haddock said bluntly to the old man’s daughter, “You don’t want money spent on his treatment as you feel that your share will become less.”

The old man’s daughter winced. 

She wanted to talk back  but her husband gestured to her to remain calm. 

The old man’s son-in-law had insisted on accompanying his wife to Pune. 

He had “insider” information from the ICU Intensivist (who had been his classmate in school) that this time it was not a false alarm and indeed the old man was sinking and he was most likely to die.

The old man’s son-in-law feared that his MBA brother-in-law, the old man’s son, who was street smart and cunning, would surely try his best to con them and try to grab maximum share in the old man’s property.

The son-in-law knew that his wife’s older brother was so wily and devious  that he would have no compunctions in cheating his own sister  who was a simpleton Techie  and giving her a raw deal.

I looked at the old man’s biological children. 

They had his blood flowing in their veins. 

And  they wanted him to die.

I did not have the old man’s blood flowing in my veins. 

Yet  I wanted him to live.

At a distance stood a man with shifty eyes.  

He was a real estate developer who was desperate to get hold of the old man’s property. 

He had come, ostensibly, to help out in case any assistance was needed  but he actually wanted to ensure he was at the scene of action and to make sure he did not lose any opportunity. 

He had already talked with the old man’s son  who had assured the real estate developer that he would convince his sister – and the moment the old man died  they would negotiate and strike a deal.

There were many other “vultures” who would come and go, to check whether their “prey” had died so that they would not miss their share of the “feast”.

And there were numerous smaller vultures watching from a distance, their “beaks” in readiness to “peck” at whatever “flesh” remained. 

No “vulture” wanted to miss the opportunity – they all knew that old man was wealthy and prosperous – he had plenty of “flesh” and if they swooped down at the right time they may get lucky.

One “vulture” had an eye on the old man’s booze collection – the choicest liquor from all over the world.

Another “vulture” fancied the rare books in the old man’s library.

One more “vulture” coveted the old man’s vintage automobile.

Yet another “vulture” wanted his paintings, his exquisite art collection, probably worth a fortune.

Some other “vultures” eyed the chandeliers, the artifacts, the curios, the maritime mementos collected by the old man during his voyages around the world. 

Some of these human “vultures” even wanted his antique furniture. 

The old man had a lot of possessions and the “vultures” wanted everything – you name it – and the “vultures” wanted it.

And they all waited for the old man to die.

Except me.

I did not want anything belonging to the old man.

I just wanted my old man – I wanted him to live.

Suddenly Captain Haddock’s cell-phone rang. 

Captain Haddock put his mobile to his ear – and he listened for some time.

Then he just said a soft “Yes” into the phone  and kept the cellphone in his pocket. 

After keeping his mobile phone in his pocket  Captain Haddock gave a poignant look. 

Captain Haddock nodded to everyone – and he began walking towards his car. 

He abruptly he stopped – and turned around – as if searching for someone.

Captain Haddock saw me – and his eyes focused on me.

He looked at me in a sympathetic manner – as if consoling me.

Then  he got into the car and drove away.  

My heart sank. 

I feared the worst. 

I was shattered. 

But there was nothing I could do except wait and pray. 

It was unimaginable agony. 

I wished I would die – rather than be rendered an orphan.

But everything turned out well.

My old man did not die. 

He came home hale and hearty.

On seeing the old man return home hale and hearty  all his “near and dear” ones – his “kith and kin” – were disappointed.

Yes – they were disappointed that the old man had survived and got well.

They all wanted the old man to die. 

Because they are all humans – “vultures” – who wanted to feast on his “flesh”.

I am happy. 

I am happy that my old man survived the illness  and I am happy that he is now hale and hearty. 

I do not want my old man to die. 

I want him to live.

I want my old man to live  because I am not a human being. 


I am not a HUMAN BEING 

I am not a “VULTURE” 

I am a DOG  

Human Beings can become “vultures” – and feast on the “flesh” of their loved ones – but a Dog will always remain loyal to his Master. 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in this story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.