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Street conversations

I have been endeavouring to write regularly, to listen more carefully, and to increase my awareness of everyday things going on around me.

Today as I was walking up Cuba Street I was stopped in my tracks by a group of people catching up with one another. They had completely blocked the footpath. They were so busy talking that they were oblivious (at least that is what I would like to think) to the fact that they were holding up the pedestrian traffic flow. There were lots of people in town. It was a Saturday morning after all and many people were heading for the cafes and the shops.

As I endeavoured to get past them I overheard a conversation that was taking place.

One of the women said to one of the guys: “What are you up to these days?

“Waiting” he responded.

“Waiting?” she said in a rather perplexed manner.

“For what?” she continued.

“Waiting tables” he replied in a manner which suggested she should have known what he was talking about. It was surely self-evident what he meant.

The penny dropped. They continued.

I smiled as I squeezed past them.

It takes work to communicate so that the other person gets the correct message. We so often assume that the people we are communicating with are operating within the same context that we are, especially when they are our friends and acquaintances. We make far too many assumptions when we communicate. This often results in miscommunication. The same word may have a number of different meanings. The meaning we ascribe is the one that makes sense for us. It may not be the same for someone else.

As I work with my learners I am often reminded of this fact.

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