Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Meta Message: Confusing?

SIGN IN PORT-OF-CALL TOWN of SORRENTO (it enforced a confusing METAmessage - see below)

"His tone of voice, facial expression, and all the elements of conversational style gave her clues as to how he felt about her going."

Thus writes Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. She is describing the important of metamessages - the things we get BEYOND the words, the things that indicate how the person FEELS about the factual things that are going on.

This is why it is so important to study emotional intelligence. Especially in today's increasingly multicultural framework.

How do you artistically orchestrate all the people in your organization? Or extended family?

Tannen describes a metamessage:
A Greek woman explained how she and her father communicated. If she wanted to do something, like go to a dance, she had to ask her father for permission. He never said no. [You must watch for this in other cultures!!]

But she could tell from the way he said yes whether or not he meant it. Ir he said something like "Yes, of course, go," then she knew he thought it was a good idea. If he said something like "If you want, you can go," then she understood that he didn't think it was a good idea and she wouldn't go.

Why didn't he just tell her outright? you might ask. Why wasn't he "honest?" Tannen adds: Well, he did tell her, in a way that was clear to both her and him.

"Honest" is getting the point across, and we have many ways of doing this. It's important you understand the communication within the system you are living or working in. Much of it is "meta".

ABOUT THE SIGN: As a cruise passenger, you assume, of course, that the port-of-call folks are waiting for your arrival. It feeds their economy. However, people who don't travel much, read about how "the ____ hate Americans," or "the ____ hate tourists."

In point of fact, the towns that the cruises and tours visit are waiting for the passengers, waiting to sell us things! Yes, they are happy to see us. I saw this sign in Sorrento this summer and it made me very happy to see it. I hadn't seen one like that before. Even though I assume ... it's nice to see it written. They were the only store in town that had a sign like that our front, and I was so impressed, that's where I went to spend my money.

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