Thursday, August 25, 2011

Theory of Mind and Context and Past Experience (again)

Two pieces of non-verbal communication are context and past experience.

Maybe you have seen the "fact" that is often quoted that only 20-30% of our communication is verbal, that 70% or more of our communication is non-verbal.

(I have not located the source of that particular statistic.)

Today, I opened this poorly written email from school:

Next week, Aug 29-Sept 2 is our annual can drive against C. Last year they beat us by collecting over 20,000 cans! Yes! 20,0000! Please help us bean CHS on and off the field by bringing in as many cans as you can all next week. Collections begin Monday!!!!!! All donations will aid those in the W community.

My first thought was, "If I had known they do can drives here, I'd have been setting aside our empty cans (Coke, soda, pop, whatever you happen to call them)." We don't drink a lot of carbonated, canned beverages, but I certainly would have saved them for a can drive had I known.

My second thought was about past experience and context:

In our former state, a CAN DRIVE is for empty beverage cans that can be recycled for cash. Context is important. We left a state that charged 10 cents per bottle or can as a deposit that the purchaser would bring them back to recycle them. This state does not charge that deposit.

Is this that kind of can drive to recycle empty beverage cans for cash?

Or do they refer to canned food, which would be a FOOD DRIVE to me?

I read it again and again. There were not enough clues in the text to help me.

So, I relied on creative problem solving. I went to the opposing high school's web site looking for information. It is a CANNED FOOD drive.

Glad I didn't dig the Coke cans from the recycle bin at the house.

I will be glad when my context more closely matches that of the people here.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Years ago when we moved to a small town in northwest MO, they had a 4th of July parade. The first year we were there, the newspaper's article stated that the parade would follow "the same route as previous years." How helpful is that?

More amusing: learning to call the toilet a "stool." Can you imagine the possible miscommunications there? ;0)

Moving so far away is always a major adjustment. I think it's even harder in a small, close-knit community because everybody assumes that everyone else has the same knowledge and experience about everything. We're making that adjustment again in a different area. Wouldn't be nice if everyone just said what they mean?

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