Recently I’ve been thinking about the value of communication. Clear and concise communication is very important and impacts every aspect of our lives. I have found most people simply are not effectively communicating what they want and then are upset with their results.
Unfortunately, a good number of people are not practicing effective communication skills. Communication is two fold and can be summed us as the following:
1) What we think and choose to say (this includes written messages).
2) What we hear other people say vs what we understand them to mean.
The first point is crucial. Its how we are coming off to other people. For our points to be better understood one must be specific. Ask exactly what you want to know. Never expect that someone is going to tell you anything specific. Some people simply aren’t good with details. Be proactive and specifically ask questions.
That applies when we are the talkers. Never beat around the bush. Yes using tact is an art form. Broaching a subject naturally takes talent but when actually discussing something always be direct.
Often we become frustrated because we think people are not being as straightforward as we would like. Next time, take a step back and ask yourself “Did I effectively communicate my point of view?”. Its always good to be clear. Often I ask people did that make sense. I never ask because I think they are stupid and are not getting it. I ask because I can be stupid and not make sense. So I ask so I know I effectively got my point across and there isn’t any confusion on my part.
Also, using a small number of words to get your point across may be helpful. Sometimes people go on huge tangents to answer a question when a simple “Yes” or “No” will do. A few years ago I heard the statement “Bottom line it for me”. I liked that and have used it when I thought the person was droning on. Again, be specific.
The second point is potentially more important than the first. What we understand the other person to be saying is crucial. Often miss communication happens when what we hear a person say is different from what we think a person says. This often is the root of disagreements. An example may be:
Person A “Does this shirt make me look fat?”
Person B “A little. Maybe find something different.”
Person A “So you think I’m fat?”
As you see Person B did not call Person A fat. However, Person A thought that was the underlining meaning to what was being said. Always listen to what the other person is actually saying and not what you think is being said. Do not look for hidden meaning in what is being said.
Some people are passive aggressive but leave them to that. If they want something they will learn to tell you about it like an adult or live with it. Learning to be direct and concise can prevent many problems.
If you are out with friends and something is suggested that you do not want to do then make it known. Do not make snide comments or passive aggressive comments. Its better to tactfully communicate what you want to say than to say something snide and start an argument.
Essentially, there are two things we all need to start doing in your daily communications.
1) Be direct and clear on what you want. Remember other people aren’t telepathic and cannot read your mind. Never assume someone should know what is wrong with you. Always communicate your feelings to another person if you expect them to know what you’re feeling.
2) Never assume you know what a person is trying to say. Take what that person is saying for face value. Reading into other people’s statements will only put your emotions and thoughts into what is actually being said. Then it isn’t their thoughts. Its now yours. Always ask people to explain just exactly what they mean.
Communicating with people can be difficult. We attempt to read people as if they are a book we pulled off the shelf. By being direct and not assuming what someone is trying to say we can better communicate with others. Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a conversation and know what is actually going on?
This in itself is humbling.