Sunday, November 30, 2008

Words in action

I have always been facinated by word meanings and the translation from speaking a sentence and the way the brain translates the information.
I remember reading a book called "The Alienist" and realizing about 5 pages in, the word alienist was used in 1896 to describe what we now know as a psychologist. I thought I was reading about little green men.
What does all this have to do with animals and animal rescue, you might ask? Well, one of my favorite words is perception. How do people perceive what you say and when it comes back it is not what you said at all? Does the brain scramble our words or are we speaking in a language which people have a hard time understanding?
Perception is listed in my dictionary as "the understanding, knowledge, etc., gotten by perceiving or a specific idea, concept, impression etc., so formed." I think the key words here are understanding and knowledge.
I have come across situations where what I told someone, and what they heard are two different conversations, sometimes to the point that you wonder if they actually remember talking to you. This is where you ask, "Did they even hear what I was saying?"
One of my favorites is telling a person that a dog will bite. Then they stick their hand in the dog's face and are bitten. They can't imagine why I didn't warn them. The truth is, I did. Did they perceive my conversation as the dog would not bite them? Or maybe the dog would bite on command? Or they knew enough about dogs in general and I couldn't possible know what I was talking about? Maybe they simply weren't listening to what I was saying?
I do know conversations with animal people get scrambled all the time. If someone's perception is you said something, most times you will never convince them otherwise.
Maybe that is why they are now teaching listening skills in college.

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