The Subconscious Act of Communication

Santo André, 1996 – Colégio São José, 4th Grade, Classroom B

Teacher: Can anyone tell me what communication is?

The entire room remains silent.

Teacher: Communication is the process of transmitting and receiving messages. For communication to occur, a sender, a receiver and a message are needed. Please write this down in your notebook.

Tássia: Teacher, can I write it in pen?

Teacher: Of course, this information is very important and you will need it for your entire life.

Chapecó, 2000 – Colégio Estadual, Professor Zélia Scharf, 8th Grade

Teacher: Can anyone tell me what communication is?

Tássia: Communication is the process of transmitting and receiving messages. It takes a sender, a receiver and a message.

Teacher: Very well, but that’s not all. Let’s not forget the channel, code and context. After all, when I tell you to keep talking in my class, I’m really hoping you keep silent. Now open your book and let’s go through some exercises to see if you understand.

Goiânia, 2010 – Colégio Cláudio de Castro, Freshman Classroom

Teacher: Write down the elements of communication in the notebook. It’s quite easy. This is one of the simplest parts of the curriculum and we use it every day, we just don’t realize it.

Student: Auntie, don’t try to tell us that this is simple. For us, it’s not.

Teacher: First, don’t call me auntie. I don’t have a nephew. You can call me Tássia. Second, I guarantee it’s much easier than any physics class you have.

Guiyang, 2021 – Living Room, after ten minutes looking at the same text message sent by my mother.

Tássia: André, come here! I give up, help me decipher what your grandmother sent me.

Yes, my name is Tássia, but if you came to this blog, it’s because somehow you know me. And yes, communication is one of the most important tools in human life. It is through it that we transmit knowledge and leave our legacy.

Communication is also one of the simplest ways to express our needs and feelings. Theoretically, it’s one of the simplest forms of expression. 

Theory

    One speaks, the other listens, and both share information.

Practice

    One speaks, the other sometimes listens, and both have different information.

As a person who loves language, I cannot emphasize enough how much more complex communication is than what meets the eye. I am not referring to the simple fact that in each region there are particular idioms and, therefore, there are structural barriers to communication, but rather to the difficulty people have expressing what they want to say and, above all, listening only to what is convenient.

Back in the Stone Age, when SMS was invented, my mother would scream in text messages because she didn’t know there was a difference between uppercase and lowercase letters. I was too lazy to put commas and punctuate my messages and my friends had a hard time understanding me. We were adapting, learning to better use this new channel of communication, which is now a free application and a favorite of many. We included stickers and emojis, but we still found it difficult to understand each other.

The Internet has expanded our reach and we sometimes forget that it’s not just our close friends who will read what we share. Misunderstandings are created, friendships broken, and eventual account privacy locks are inevitable for those who like to share their opinion about everything and everyone. After all, we do not share the same opinions and we live in a society in which everything, or almost everything, offends.

It’s frustrating to see that we’re capable of doing so much, that our creativity seems to have no limit, and at the same time, we haven’t learned when to be quiet and when it’s essential to speak up. Will we ever come to a consensus on how or when to react to certain situations? 

I spent years explaining to my students the theory and essential elements of communication and doing many practical exercises to prepare them for college entrance exams. However, I rarely had time to debate issues pertinent to everyday life:

  • Why can’t people be clear about the messages they seek to express? (Could it be that deep down, they just don’t know what they want?)
  • Why are people so afraid of the judgment of others when being honest with themselves and with others? (Is it really inherent in humans to want to maintain a good reputation in order to have positive recognition in society?)
  • Why is it so difficult to listen without getting distracted or thinking about one’s own response before the other person finishes speaking? (Does silence still bother us that much?)
  • Why do we interpret very clear messages in only the way that pleases us? (Do we deny it because we are slow to accept it or because we want to convince the other person that we have?) 

I believe you must have realized that I have more questions than answers. The only thing I can offer is a chance to reflect. 

The subconscious act of communication needs to become more conscious. 

If you’ve made it this far, let me clarify a few points:

  • The situations described are merely illustrative, I was never the nerd in the room, although I remember being very excited to be able to use a pen for the first time in school. 
  • Yes, I used to tell my students that language arts was easy. For some inexplicable reason, I thought they wouldn’t give up learning if they believed it was easy. I’m sorry if you were my student during this time.
  • It’s been a while since I’ve received indecipherable text messages from my mother, since we usually talk via voice messages or video calls.

Proofreader/Translator Evelyn Jamila

Published by Tassia Kespers

Escritora, professora, tradutora, revisora, mãe e exploradora nas horas vagas.

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