You are sure that the message has been delivered: loud and clear. However, you soon realize that people may have not fully understood what you wanted them to know. So, why do we sometimes assume that the message was clearly conveyed when in fact it hasn’t? Here we will look at some principles to help us thrive in one of the most important organizational traits: communication.
First, we will look at the other side: if we want the other person to fully get the message, three things need to happen:
Comprehension – the person has to understand you (and we mean, fully understand you). So, your message has to be delivered in a clear way, avoiding ambiguity or the possibility of multiple interpretations. There is a joke in the TV series Modern Family where one character was so unclear in his messages that he wanted to break up with his girlfriend and ended up married to her -you don’t want that happening to you.
Concurrence – the person has to agree with you. Of course, this does not always happen, but the person has to at least understand your motivations and intention, even if they do not agree with the message itself. It is clear, however, that if the person feels aligned with what is being communicated, the results will be much better, but we can discuss that next.
Care – what you are trying to communicate has to matter to the person. Your message has to be shared in a way that is engaging, making the other person understand why this is relevant for them so that they retain and internalize what you are saying.
But we also have to look at ourselves in the mirror: how are WE as communicators? So, as a brief self-assessment, you could ask yourself some simple questions: am I truly listening to the other part? Am I showing empathy while I try to share my message? Am I thinking clearly before I speak? If the honest answer to any of those questions is “no”, then we already know where to start working.
We have to understand that effective communication is an art, but is also a skill that can be trained. And, while some people are “natural communicators”, most of us are just average, so there is always room for improvement. While we are always communicating -intentionally or not- it is useful to take some time to reflect on how we are sharing the messages and the results we are obtaining. If you often find yourself complaining about others not paying attention to you, or not understanding what you say, maybe it is time for some self-analysis: what if the problem is not outside, but inside? You can start by making small changes, and the results may surprise you!