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On Communication

Discussion in 'General' started by Rachfan, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Everyone,

    I'd just like to comment on communication if I may. Recently a few threads in the Forums have become argumentative and have nearly become toxic. So I simply want to share some thoughts here.

    Let me start with an observation about e-mail to which we can all relate. Everyone here would readily agree that e-mail, despite its convenience, is often a very poor medium of communication. The reasons are simple: E-mail consists of written words only. What is absent are voice inflections, real facial expressions, gestures, and other body language. Without those other forms of feedback in the moment, the written word becomes woefully inadequate, particularly on sensitive matters. The very same deficiency is present in private messaging as well as in forum dialogues or discussions. But it becomes even more complex. The many participants in a forum thread might have very different perceptions, meaning different views of reality, which is always to be expected. Words can also have more than one definition or usage, even several, thereby connoting different messages to different people. And another complexity: With the world-wide Internet, Piano Society is a truly international website. All of the continents and very numerous countries are represented here. (Maybe Antarctica is not participating, but I wouldn't rule it out!). People's native languages have different idioms, semantics, inflections and styles of expression. In some cultures, communication is very direct or even brutally honest; in other cultures it is more subtle, more dependent on implication and inference. When members here translate their thoughts into English as their second language, further complications can arise. The sentence structure might be different. Synonyms for words might be chosen which are uncommonly used within certain contexts. The tone might seem more forceful than persuasive. I believe that anyone who has been regularly on the Internet for a long time can relate to all of this. It's so easy to see how misunderstandings can occur and how conversations might escalate as a result.

    Getting back to e-mail as an illustration, many here have probably worked in office environments. Sometimes an e-mail thread can become caustic and even quite disagreeable if not odious. In these situations whenever one party stops e-mailing, gets up and visits the other person in her office, the issue is fully resolved amicably in a very short time. Why? Because it is authentic, visible and audible two-way communication in the moment which facilitates making meaning. Alas, in the website forum scenario, we're stuck with the written word and some questionable help from emoticons.

    So, how can we maintain our tradition of congenial relationships here at Piano Society given the inherent barriers to effective communication? Here again, different members will have different ideas, which is a very good thing. Here are some of mine.

    Respecting others is of the greatest importance.
    Try to empathize with others.
    Being tactful and diplomatic is usually more persuasive than blunt trauma.
    Appreciating other cultures is conducive to positive relationships.
    Posing a question (inquiring) is sometimes far more helpful and useful than making a statement.
    Keeping one's defenses low helps to prevent escalation and anger.
    Taking the initiative to diffuse conflict shows good will.

    As a side note, I see no division or barrier between professional artists and amateur artists. While professionals have made piano their vocation, amateurs have made it their avocation. The level of training betweem the two more often differs than not, of course, as does their level of pianism in performance, which is to be expected. But what they share is a common love of piano and the literature for the piano. There is certainly no antagonism, disdain or ill will about that! Piano Society creates an unusual opportunity and collegial atmosphere for both professionals and amateurs to come together to share and enjoy the art of piano.

    David April
     
  2. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    Very well said, David. Most sincerely.
     
  3. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Duplicate deleted.
     
  4. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Eddy,

    I appreciate that!

    David
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well said David. Though I believe I have read all this, or words very similar, several times before. It's common knowledge, if not common sense.

    Things got a bit heated and personal recently (I plead stupidity and stubbornness) but if you believe recent postings were odious or even toxic, I do wonder if you have ever seen a real nasty argument on the web. This was nothing, believe me. It was very civilized if not as amiable as usual in PS.

    Here's what you might read in a real foul argument:

    And so on :lol:
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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  7. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Chris and Monica,

    Yes, I agree, it is all nothing more than common sense and common courtesy. I think it comes down to members being more self-aware and thinking about the tone of their responses before writing them. But then again, if we lived in a perfect world....

    David
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Then life would be excruciatingly boring :)

    David, you're right of course. I sure wish I had some of your old-world courtesy. Sometimes it would come in handy when my temperament gets the better of me.

    Then again, it's easy to say when you are watching from the sideline and do not have to grapple with the people who try our patience and test our limits from time to time. Believe me, it can wear you out sometimes.

    Anyway, enough of all this now. Let's move on.
     
  9. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    Chris, you are in the Old World after all. :roll:
     
  10. hanysz

    hanysz New Member

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    David, it's good to see your calm words in this thread. Sure, it's stuff we've heard before, but sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know. Thanks for taking the time to do this.
     
  11. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi hanysz,

    Thanks for chiming in. I agree. Sometimes good principles bear repeating.

    David
     
  12. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    I think these words or at least an abridged version should be placed somewhere visible on the site and should be made visible to all members, new and old.

    It all reminds me of a girl-friend I had when I lived in Paris. Her command of French was not all that good, but she pretended she could understand everything. Now and then I would say something like, "let's go" and she would get miffed and say angrily, "if that is what you want I will go! Good bye!".

    Sigh.
     
  13. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Richard,

    I liked your Paris anecdote! :lol:

    Actually I thought I might put this short essay on the Useful Resources Forum, but wasn't quite sure if it would fit there given the brief forum description.

    David
     
  14. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    David,

    Just wanted to stop by your thread to say while your ideas are somewhat old fashioned, nevertheless, they are beautiful and hopefully will never lose their relevance. Should people always remember those, there would've been no wars in the world...

    In any case, the reason I decided to post here is my Dad, who lives exactly on another side of the globe, in rural Siberia, called me a couple days ago to inform he was diagnosed with lung cancer (quit smoking cold turkey some 20 years ago). He is not all that old-- only 74 and immediately will be put into intensive care.

    Just half a year ago we lost my wife's beloved father, who passed away (he was 65) after some 7 weeks of struggling with pancreatic cancer (ironically enough, it was the reason I was not able to answer (for personal reasons, unfortunately negatively) to the invitation to become a member on PS--when I came back from the funeral the thread already fell down, my recordings were erased, and the whole thing was irrelevant for me to start explaining).
    In any case, if something wrong happens now, that would be just way too many losses for this year.

    He was one of my first teachers and whatever I know and whatever education I received in large has to be attributed to him.

    Since this thread is about communication I very much hope I do not hijack it with my request for anybody with good will, please send his way good word and positive energy. I am not religious and not sure it will help, but definitely, it cannot hurt.

    While we are on that, let's remember there are millions of other sick and/or hungry people and little kids on planet Earth, who were blessed much less than we are. Instead of being able to talk about such beautiful thing as music, they have to think about food and survival... Let's not forget those, either.

    Thank you, M
     
  15. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    M, I'm very sorry to hear the news about your dad. As a Christian physician, I have just prayed for your dad, that the physicians around him will know what to do to lessen his suffering in his final days (hospice) and that your dad will be prepared to "cross over to the other side."
    Regards,
    Eddy
     
  16. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Duplicate.
     
  17. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Marik,

    I'm sorry to hear of your father's serious illness, especially following the earlier loss of your father-in-law. I hope the best for him and will certainly keep your dad in my thoughts and send a positive energy his way.

    Thanks for your kind words about my "essay" here on communication. I'm glad you concur, and hope others will take a moment to read it as well.

    Best,

    David
     
  18. Marik

    Marik New Member

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    Thank you Gentlemen for your nice words,

    I am not sure yet what is exactly the situation there. Originally he told the surgery would've been this coming Tuesday, but now they postponed it until the doctors take some other tests... Crossing fingers...

    Best, M
     
  19. musical-md

    musical-md New Member

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    M,
    Let me elaborate philosophically on one more thing: Everlasting life (which is different than eternal life)
    To be intellectually honest, there can be only two occidental views:
    A. We are the product of purposeless material evolution, our life has no ultimate meaning, and there is no after life, or
    B. We are the product of creation by an intelligent being (the only known source for specified information), our life has meaning, and there is an after life.

    I would direct your attention to the central portions of my statements. Unless one can dissect my statements otherwise, then to have meaning in life is to affirm B. I for one find great meaning in life, but I also affirm B. I hope your dad does too.

    If we consider the orient, then we must allow for circular time and reincarnation (which is impersonal) and the theories of Karhma (which actually impede notions of compassion and justice). For me, (as for most westeners) time is linear so I reject the oriental alternatives.
     
  20. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist

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    Hello, Marik,

    All I can add to what has been said here is that I hope your father does not suffer and that he will be either cured or spared the life of misery which seems to be the lot of patients in our modern world.

    My father used to smoke too, but quit. Both my grandfather and my uncle, both smokers, fell victims to lung cancer. My father was diagnosed with another type of cancer over 10 years ago, underwent treatment and was cured. This is what I wish your father.

    I am the husband of a Russian who smokes and I very much fear she will bring much misery to us also. Let us hope she quits soon.

    It is a miracle already that we have had a lovely, healthy daughter.
     

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