Have you ever noticed that communication is not a problem until it’s a problem?
It’s like those bald tires on your car. They are still rolling fine until you get a flat, or skid off the road in the rain because you were hydroplaning. You knew they needed attention, but it didn’t seem critical, yet.
Communication works the same way. You need it for everything, but we all seem to take it for granted. If things are going along without obvious problems, then everything must be fine.
Don’t be too sure about that.
Poor communication is the slow disintegration of threads in the fabric of relationships: a small hole forms. These threads connect everything, so unlike a tire blow out, a few threads give way, and the symptoms may not be immediately apparent.
The little hole is just the beginning of the problem. When there is a communication breakdown in one department of your life, it seldom stays isolated in one place.
If you have some unexpressed anger it doesn’t just disappear. You carry it with you. You might stuff it in a briefcase on the way to a meeting, or hold it in your belly over dinner, but don’t think the person you are mad at does not feel it. They won’t necessarily understand it, but it will influence your interaction with the other person.
Good communication is a challenge for everybody. If you are not sure how good you are at communicating you can start by answering the questions below and use them as a starting point for reflection.
“ How do you…?”
Explain your expectations
Give directions to others
Share your feelings
Express your anger
Act on your excitement
State your goals
Describe your strategies
Interpret your analysis
Collaborate on projects
Establish your priorities
All of these actions require communication and apply to relationships, family, and business.
Research shows that most people rate their own communication skills much higher than how others rate them. It seems we all think we are perfectly clear.
So what can you do about it?
First, assume you aren’t communicating as clear as you think you are, and start asking more questions to verify your message has been heard.
Just like giving driving directions, no one does it the same way. Some people use North, South, East, West, and others use landmarks, or provide exact distances.
How does the person who needs the directions understand it best? Personally, I need landmarks and I ask for them! If I didn’t ask, I would be lost!
We all have various filters that incoming information passes through. It’s not even conscious for most people, so what the other person hears or doesn’t hear isn’t even a deliberate choice.
This is a good thing to remember. Misunderstandings don’t have to be personal from the beginning. Try to learn how the other person understands and processes the type of information you are sharing.
Remember, the goal is to improve the quality of communication, which raises your game in every department of your life.
If you want to share some of your answers about “How do you …?” I would love to hear them!
Enjoy your springtime!