People are generally sloppy about how they communicate with each other. So, it should be no surprise when misunderstandings or misperceptioins occur. The results? Grief, aggravation and wasted time and, all too often,damaged relationships. In order to communicate clearly, you must know what you really mean. First, pay attention; be present. What do you feel and what do you think? Figure this out before you communicate. This is true for both speaking and writing. When thinking is not clear, any exchange of words will be vague or confusing. Happily, a few simple skills can make communication significantly easier and more effective. Here are three:
- Know your own thoughts and feelings (including attitude and motive)
- Be clear about what you want the other person to understand from you (or what you want to convey to the other person).
Know the outcome you would like to achieve from the communication.
You are the only one who knows what you mean, therefore you have the responsibility for making yourself understood. Make no assumptions about the other person. Check it out. See if your meaning was received accurately, as intended. Ask the person to say the meaning in their own words. If your meaning was unclear, simply restate your message. It’s not the listener’s job to read your mind. As listener, you have responsibility to understanding the speaker’s meaning. Check it out. Simply restate your understanding to see if you received the message accurately. It takes two to complete a circle of communication. Effective communication requires preparation and focus. Focus requires being totally present. Seals and Croft had it right when they sang, “Be with the one you’re with.“