Anyone who has a pet dog knows that they understand some of the words spoken by their owners. For instance, a dog may become excited at the mention of a “walk”, or “treat”. Amazingly, a Border Collie called Chaser learned the names of over one thousand toys and other objects and many actions like “take” and “paw” as they applied to these objects.
For humans, the ability to communicate was a defining development of our evolution, which led to the growth of our larger brains to support conversation as well as thinking using language. Humans are social animals, so the quality of communication at work and in our personal lives is fundamental to our wellbeing, as well as that of those around us.
Unfortunately, we’re not born with a life manual on how to communicate well. Apart from learning a language, we’re not explicitly taught how to communicate effectively as we grow up. Like becoming a parent, communication is one of those many things that we end up learning by doing, sometimes making mistakes,, and then adapting. Consider for a moment, just how much time in a typical day we’re either receiving or sending information. We’re not only in conversation with other people; we also watch TV, listen to the radio, read, and respond to social media and emails – so typically we communicate for many hours a day.