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Doesn’t it seem that sometimes life would be easier if you didn’t have to deal with other people? Whether it’s someone you know well or a stranger, miscommunication happens so often. The most innocent comment to your spouse can spin out of control. The next thing you know you’re sleeping on the couch. It’s no better at work. If your colleagues don’t understand you, kiss the promotion goodbye or worse. Whether you seek wealth or rich relationships, you have to be able to communicate clearly.
Why It’s So Hard to Communicate
On its face, communication seems simple. You speak, the other person hears, DONE! But breaking down the process reveals surprising complexity.
First, there are at least two people involved. Each has a different background and perspective. Then there’s the message itself. Use one wrong word or a word the other person doesn’t know and communication fails. These three parts leave ample room for lack of clarity.
People communicate on many levels. Your words can be perfectly clear and your message may still be garbled. Body language, tone of voice, and the other person’s mood or health may change how she perceives what you say. When you take into account how many factors impede clear communication it’s a wonder anybody understands anything.
How to Ensure Clearer Communication
You can’t take everybody’s temperature. Nor can you give people a vocabulary test. So how do you pave the way for to clear communication?
These five steps take seconds, at most, to use but will improve how you communicate with family and colleagues:
- Accept responsibility for being clear about what you say. If you have a message to convey, it’s your job to make sure others understand you. Blaming another for misinterpreting what you said is like insisting that someone who doesn’t speak English is at fault for not knowing the language.
- Assess people’s state before beginning or responding. Is the person paying attention? Is she feeling well? You can’t read minds, but you can take a few seconds to decide whether you’re likely to be understood under current conditions.
- Have a conversation. Especially in situations when clear communication is crucial, take a moment to absorb what someone is telling you. Repeat it back in your own words to confirm understanding. Give the other person a chance to do the same.
- Be clear about what you want to say before saying it. If you lack clarity, you cannot communicate effectively. Don’t be afraid to stop speaking if you realize you’re unsure about what you mean. Let the other person know you need time to think through what you meant to say. Re-engaged at another time.
- Tailor your vocabulary. I once had a doctor tell me there was foreign matter in my umbilicus. Seeing the stricken look on my face he let me in on the joke – I had lint in my belly button. (Okay, I made this up but you get the point.) Jargon and slang prevent communication outside of their arenas. Often that’s the point of using them, to exclude the uninitiated. If you want to communicate well, use language the other person is sure to understand.
Think about the people you like the most. Most likely it’s because they communicate in a way that you find compelling. Taking the time to do the same for others dramatically increases the chance you create solid relationships. And relationships are the key to a rich life.
How to you ensure you communicate clearly? Please comment below.
© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved
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