The Message

I love comedians! They are sociologists and psychologists who dispense comedic medicine for the soul. The only channel I watch consistently, other than ESPN, is Comedy Central, especially during the weekend when they have the stand up comedy marathons (sidenote: TNT is also up there because of basketball games, but more importantly Law and Order: Special Victims Unit; is it just me or does hour-long blocks of time disappear from the day when there is a SVU marathon on TNT?). The other night, in honor of Bernie Mac’s passing, Comedy Central presented stand up comedy routines from other black comedians, and I watch Eddie Griffin’s special.

In the above clip, Eddie Griffin observes that different religions argue about who is messenger? Jesus Christ? Allah? Buddha? The punchline of the joke is: did you get the message?

Did you get the message?

Much of our understanding of language results from our understanding of non-verbal communication, better known as body language. Some researchers have listed the percentage of communication understood through words at a paltry 7% (sidenote: maybe this explains why men, stereotypically, do not talk much in relationships). Our words account for less than 10% of what other understand when we speak. Less than 10%.

Did you get the message?

As we all sat around the large harkness table, a table designed to provoke conversation and encourage participation by enabling all participants to see each other, I listen. I listen to my colleague propose this pilot program that he would like to begin next fall. I raise my hand, and when called upon, I challenge his idea. I can see the benefits of the program, but think that we can adjust a current program we have to meet the proposed goals without the added cost. He retorts; though, we seated next to each other, he chooses not to make eye contact with him, but instead chooses to make eye contact with other members around the harkness table. He ends his defensive response, and I listen some more as other colleagues agree with him. Someone asks if I now understand the proposal. I respond, “I do, but…” I clearly lay out my opposition because neither his response nor their additional comments have satisfied my query. I can see my colleague’s frustration bubble to the top; he has this who-are-you-to-disagree-with-me, pretentious affect, which unfortunately is his day to day disposition. Someone to our left speaks, he turns to answer her. When he turns to face her, his back is now turned to me. After he addresses her question, he begins to speak to me. Addressing me with his back turned to me, I sit back bewildered at his rude and obnoxious body language.

Did you get the message?

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had a classic song entitled, “The Message” and the chorus seemed apt at this moment:

Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under



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