Most People Aren’t Great At Communication
My experience is that not very many people are genuinely good at communication–in all the ways that they need to be. You may be good at it with your kids or with your employees or with your boss, but it is highly likely that you AREN’T good at it in all the times/ways/with ALL the people you need to be. There are so many factors that create good communication:
When you think about your communication, do you think about all of these? Let me give a few examples:
If I tell you I’m thinking about a star, which of these do you think about:
Depends, doesn’t it? If you are an editor for People Magazine, then you probably think about the star on the red carpet. If you’re a quilter like me, you might think about the Ohio Star quilt pattern (2d from the right). If you’re Jewish, maybe the Star of David. If you’re an astronomer, then maybe the galaxy. If however, you are in a synagog, that makes it more likely that you’d think of the Star of David. If you’re in a quilt class–you get the point. Mind set and context have a lot to do with your interpretation of what you hear. Do you think about that when you talk about something or ask people for things? I’ve been in situations where people clearly misunderstood each other using common words. When Engineers and Marketers are talking to each other, then it is easy to misunderstand. People who are talking about new processes v. old process, new systems v. old systems, higher levels in the organizations v. lower levels in the organization, younger people v. older people, experienced v. inexperienced.
Think about the ways in which people use the same words that you use. Is it possible you’re not getting your point across? Remember that what you think is fast may not be what others think of as fast. Complete may not be the same complete. Strategy. Urgent. Important. Right. So many ways to have different interpretations. So many ways to fail to communicate.
It Doesn’t Matter If The Message Doesn’t Get Through
That’s why it’s important to use pictures, questions, videos. Whatever it takes to draw out the different interpretations will help you get clear. It doesn’t matter if you are being clear (as far as you’re concerned), if the receiver is getting the wrong message (and especially if it seems clear to the receiver). That is a failed communication.