Understanding the Communication Gap

The Communication Gap is the psychological, emotional and experiential space that exists between all human beings. It is the Gap in which meaning can be lost or altered, in which messages can be transformed and/or misinterpreted, and in which intention can be misunderstood.

We have all had the experience of being misunderstood by someone else. And that someone else needn’t always be a complete stranger! They can be our nearest and dearest, family and friends who have known us for years, work colleagues with whom we have shared a range of challenges, successes, maybe even some failures. How is it, when our intentions are good and the people we are communicating with are well known to us (and us to them), that our message and purpose can be received in a manner that is sometimes the complete opposite of what we intended? How can caring, well-meaning, human beings make such a hash of that most basic and important of activities: communication?

The answer is simple: it is because of what happens in the Gap.

The Communication Gap exists because of the many very different communication habits and preferences that we, as individuals, all develop. From now on I will refer to these as patterns.

These personal communication patterns are one of the primary sources of differences between human beings. They determine what we give deliberate, conscious attention to in any moment and in any given context and, importantly, how we interpret those things we give our attention to. By extension, they also determine what we have no conscious awareness of at any given time.

Our communication patterns are influenced by and reflected through the language we use – both verbal and physical – and they shape the different meanings we place on our experiences. They are underpinned by and inevitably serve to reinforce our personal beliefs and values. They are, arguably, at the very heart of what makes us unique in the ways we express ourselves. And, therefore, they are the very source of the gap that exists between you and me and every one of the other seven billion individuals with whom we share our planet.

So, if you want to improve your ability to communicate effectively you first of all have to be able to recognise the size and the nature of the gap that exists between yourself and those you are seeking to influence.

How do you do this?

By learning how to give skilled attention.

And that is what I will be writing about next.

If you’d like to communicate with me you can email Marcus at