Have you ever found yourself frustrated because someone could not understand what you were saying no matter how hard you tried to explain or how slow you repeated yourself multiple times? Sometimes, we have to look at communication as an art. It requires time to master and delicate patience in order to take part.
Something happen with my brother this morning that triggered the memory of some past communication failures I have had. He gave me pieces of information in regards to something he wanted me to do. I did not put the pieces together, because I didn’t have enough background knowledge to make a connection. I was frustrated and he was upset, becausee thought he made himself clear during our conversation. I felt he did not give me enough information,and that he was not clear. We both walked away with different emotions so we would not make the situation worst – mistakes like this happen all the time. Someone tells you something in pieces expecting you to put them together, no questions ask. Of course it is very difficult to do this, so here you are and here is another failure in the communication arena. What if we try to be more clear? what if instead of pieces of information, we tell exactly what we mean? Well, communicating would be a easier task.
We all know communication requires at least two people who actively take turns listening and speaking one at a time. Here are a couple other things to keep in mind to communicate effectively:
Being clear means telling all that needs to be said – no bits and pieces of information. Don’t leave the listener with a puzzle he or she does not have enough background knowledge to complete. For example, this morning on our way out, my brother asked me if I had my license. I replied yes, thinking he wanted to make sure because I had just woken up and would be driving the car after I dropped him off work. When we arrived at his job, he told me to get out of the car so I can give my license to the agent to have my name down as a driver of the car he rented. When he asked if I had my license, I had no idea that is what he meant. How was I supposed to put two and two together on this one? After a few seconds of going back and forth, he exclaimed, “yesterday I told I would put your name down as another driver of the car and this morning I reminded you to get your license”. On my defense I did not know much about this subject. I’ve never had to put anyone’s name down before, so I have no idea how it works. For one reason or another, I did not put the pieces together. Being the teacher that I am, I wanted to make sure he knows that he did not give me enough information to make a connection with exactly what he was saying. This morning, instead of simply asking if I had my license, he could have said “you need to be there to put your name down as another driver of the car, so be sure to take your license with you”. That to me would have been clear and there would have no problem making any connection.
Give processing time
Some people are fast talkers, fast listeners or fast processors and others are a combination. What I mean by give processing time is this: when it is your turn to talk, be sure to give the listener plenty of time to process the information and signal understanding. Communication failures take place when fast talkers think the listener/processor should be just as fast. We are all different, hence we do things differently. The person processing will confirm understanding by repeating what was said in his or her words. Upon confirmation, the speaker can continue. Have you ever had someone just spill everything off their chest at you, nonstop? Like me, I am sure you stood there with an awe look on your face in between thinking ” what is she talking about and what did she just say’? Remember the fast speakers I mentioned earlier and how they sometime assume the listener is just as fast? Now, there is a difference if it is a friend who came over upset, warning you that she is going to vent. At this point, you just have to try your best to keep up and check in by saying things like, ” so, wait, this and that happened”? Something like this will give you a bit of the processing time you need and will indicate to your friend that you are listening and trying your best to understand.
Again, communication requires two people who are willing to share talking and listening time, know to respect the other person’s perspective, and of course be clear and give processing time.