You knew it instantly. In fact, it was clear that you weren’t getting your message across. But you didn’t know how to make it any clearer. So why does communication have to be so frustrating? And what can you do to make sure you’re getting through?
First, know your own mind.
And while this may seem obvious, stop and think about this for a moment.
Do you actually know what you’re trying to say?
Because chances are, your thinking isn’t as clear as you’d like for it to be.
In fact, you’re probably throwing ideas out there that are half-baked —
— and then expecting your listener to do at least some of your thinking — and deciding — for you.
And that’s OK.
As long as you realize that when you do this and then people don’t get it — it’s not all their fault.
And you know at least one way to make your thinking clearer, don’t you?
I call it “spilling.”
Others call it free-writing.
It just means to take out a piece of paper or open a fresh document on your computer and write about a subject as fast as you can without stopping to edit.
Because when you do this, you force your brain into clarity, without overthinking or under-thinking.
And you may have heard the famous quote that describes this process, from E.M. Forster —
“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
So you might want to take a few minutes to “spill” about a subject — and see what you actually think about it.
For more on this method of getting to your thoughts, another great resource is Mark Levy’s book, Accidental Genius.
Next, consider your audience.
And remember the “com” in communication.
Because “com” means “with.”
And “with” is what you’re looking for.
As in, “I’m with you — we have something in common — now I’m listening.”
And for that kind of connection to happen, it helps to have a common language.
Which is why Nelson Mandela famously said,
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Which means — speak to the heart.
Have you actually thought about the heart-language of your listener?
And don’t think this only applies to romantic situations.
Because to instantly get your message across, whether spoken or written —
You need to speak to the heart of your listener.
For example —
If you want to get through to me, please don’t waste my time.
And that may sound pretty stuck up.
But it really just means speak to me with respect.
Because if you speak to me with respect, chances are good that no matter what you have to say — I’ll hear you.
So what can you do to get your message across?
1. Pay attention.
That’s right — pay attention.
First, to yourself.
Get clear on what you want to say.
Then, pay attention to your listener.
You can pick up on the language of your listener pretty quickly if you’re paying attention.
2. Think “instantly” rather than “insistently.”
In fact, you will be amazed how quickly you can get your message across when you’re paying attention and speaking your listener’s heart-language.
Which means that you won’t be beating your head against the wall, frustrated, insisting that your listener pay attention to you.
Instead, you’ll actually be communicating.
3. Be ready to learn something new.
And finally —
When you begin communicating in this way, something else will begin to happen —
You’ll not only get your message across, you’ll learn something new.
Which is the only reason I get up in the morning.
And as always — if there was something in this post that didn’t make sense, or if you want to go deeper, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll be sure to get back to you:-)