Commentary: Messages are getting lost through delivery

If you cover the finest filet mignon with vomit, most people won’t eat it. But I think that is what is happening with our political discourse. Great ideas, opinions and thoughts that could move us toward solutions to difficult and complex problems are covered by sarcasm, vulgarity, name calling and anger.

When we communicate within one another, there are several factors of speech involved: volume, tone, speed, non-verbals and the spoken words.

Ever hear the disclaimer on the end of some commercials where the speaker is talking so fast you really can’t hear what they are saying? Did you hear the message or just a lot of words spoken quickly and then assumed you knew what he or she was saying? Have you ever had the experience where your parent/spouse/friend was yelling to you and all you could “hear” was loud (indecipherable) words?

You knew someone was trying to tell you something but all you could hear were loud syllables. If they were telling you something important, you missed it. Or how about your tween daughter telling you, “Nice haircut Dad.” Did they mean nice haircut (said with enough sarcasm to last a few other sentences) or did they mean “nice haircut” because it is.

I believe if you want to solve difficult problems or understand complex issues, you need lots of input from different perspectives. As a psychologist, I know if you restrict your sources of information to people who think like you, all you really hear are variations of your own thoughts.

I want to understand people’s opposing points of view. I have friends whom I admire and respect who have different ideas than me, and I want to understand where they are coming from and how they are thinking, because I respect them (but I really don’t understand them). I want to hear about different points of view because diversity increases knowledge and understanding. I do not want to change their mind. I just want to hear their perspective. If I hear their perspective and they hear mine, we just might find some common ground.

A beginning of dialogue and cessation of yelling, name calling and anger.

How many times are we — the American people — missing ideas, points of view and perspectives because of how the message is delivered? When a message delivered in such a gross and off-putting manner, I think that the messenger might as well have just kept quiet. At least then, there would be less ignorance and anger in our world.

Joseph C. Zingaro, Ph.D., of Milford, has been practicing as a psychologist in Delaware since 1987.