Sometimes lack of communication is key
Communication is key. We have all heard it before, but what does that really mean? Nothing. The cliché is incomplete and somewhat dangerous. Effective communication is much more important than just communicating. People communicate angrily, annoyingly and without considering their audience all too often. When expressing ourselves, especially in public, we need to remember that the things we say will never be unheard.
Think before you speak. Some people say whatever comes to mind without considering how those words will be received. Admittedly, I was one of those people. I was completely oblivious to the power of the spoken word until a former co-worker told me that some random thing I said at work changed her life. Luckily for both of us, my words were encouraging… but what if they had not been? How often do we consider the impact of our words? What if some mean spirited thing you said to a lover, friend, stranger, or child changed the path of their life irreparably?
Consider your audience. Have you ever traveled abroad and expected the natives to speak your language or share in your vernacular? As human beings we all communicate differently – from country to country, city to city and even person to person. How you share your thoughts and feelings may not be the same way someone else does. Do you consider if the person on the receiving end is overly sensitive and instead of understanding your words as constructive criticism, he/she is insulted or hurt? Consider who you’re speaking to and communicate in a way that they’ll understand. Meet them where they are so what you’re saying is not misinterpreted or taken out of context.
Follow up. So you thought about your words before you uttered them, you considered who you were speaking to, but somehow what you were trying to say was still lost in translation. There’s nothing wrong with following up. Sometimes I pride myself on refusing to repeat what I have already said but is that effective? What if the person I was speaking to missed something or was distracted with his/her own thoughts while I was attempting to express mine? Follow up by summarizing your thoughts. It’s okay to say things twice – with tact of course.
Maybe you should be quiet? Knowing when not to speak is equally as important as choosing the proper words to say. Ask yourself,”Is there a valid point to what I’m saying and if so what is it?” Maybe after hearing yourself say it, you may decide not say it out loud. As self-centered human beings, we get caught up in our selfish need for attention and recognition. We rant, rave, brag, gossip and make ourselves sound ridiculous just for the sake of being heard. At times and for reasons unknown, we feel compelled to comment or respond negatively (especially if our feelings, beliefs, and/or principles are threatened) when the best course of action is to be silent. In the words of President Lincoln, “it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Does your mouth get you in trouble? Do you find yourself saying things that you soon regret? Is expressing yourself more important than actually having your point understood?