Saturday, March 24, 2012


Some people have the innate ability to convince others. Many others may cite the same points as the 'convincing folks', but may never be accepted. Have you ever wondered why is it that the same point stated by different folks are received differently by the recipient of the message? I have seen this happen with increasing frequency in recent times.

Communication is traditionally referred to as the process whereby a sender dispatches a message through a channel to a receiver. That is theoretically correct. However, why is it that the same message from a different sender, is received differently by the receiver? Has it got anything to do with the stature of the sender? Or, is it related to the personal equations between the sender and the receiver i.e. there may be a message sent by somebody who is not greatly valued by the receiver. Yet, the same message sent to the same receiver, by a some other sender who is looked upon in awe by the receiver, is considered an expert view, or at the least sanguine.

Why is this so? Does this behaviour have any psychological connotation? Does this behaviour have anything to do with any personal vendetta that the receiver may have against the sender he 'doesn't like'?

Maybe, there is another angle to all this. The sender may enjoy tremendous credibility in the receiver's eyes. Or, the sender may benefit from 'favouritism' in the receiver's estimation of him. Or, there may be some open behaviour that is partial, or, more subtly displayed preferences by the receiver. To me, it is illogical that the same message sent by different senders are viewed and received so differently by the same receiver(s).

I have seen this behaviour manifest itself in multiple fora. In the corporate world, an outside consultant enjoys greater credibility in the company's eyes when the former provides certain recommendations/action items. Yet, when the same recommendation is made by any executive within the firm, it is not necessarily taken well. In other set ups, you find that when two friends go out with a group of friends and both of them crack a joke, the audience may not laugh at one of the 2 people who uttered the joke; yet, the same audience may burst into haughty laughter when the other person states the joke. Is there an explanation to this at all? It's the same joke, after all!

You find this 'sender-trap' as I call it in families too. There are people who demand respect. Such people, at most times, are insensitive to the idea of earning respect from family members. And there are others, who consider some people in the family more aligned to their thoughts and actions, than others (the latter are conveniently ignored). Yet, the ignored people, typically might have the same, well-meaning, well-mannered attitude to the entire family. But, they are never considered as part of the family. Their communication with other members of the family (especially, the people who don't consider them as part of the family) deteriorates over time. Ignorance becomes a norm. Silence becomes the way of life. The ignored variety begin to think 'why should I bother communicating with such people, who either refuse to understand my viewpoint, or, are incapable of taking my views?' 

Then, there are bosses who demarcate between people reporting into them. There may be situations when 2 team members may have the same suggestion in a project, where, the boss ignores the person he does not prefer; and credits the person who he prefers. That leads to a lot of ego issues, demotivation etc. The larger point is, the recipient's behaviour results in the 'ignored' employees to wonder why they should even be part of the team,when their efforts are not valued by the powers-that-be. 

Much of being ignored, results in getting supremely demotivated at most times. And in other cases, it can cause lack of belief in oneself (due to total non-acceptance from all quarters). I think, all this, has fundamentally got to do with being accepted as a human being overall. Communication is then just an offshoot. A person can try all he can to convince people and try to explain his well-meaning intentions. However, if the person is fundamentally not accepted by society, he/she is not going to get very far in being accepted in society/life. Otherwise, there just cannot be an explanation to this whole sender-trap. It is communication, at the end of it, which is a very standard process as outlined at the beginning of this blog piece. So, I am convinced that its acceptance of the human being that's at the core. It can't be anything else, to my mind, at least.


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