Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Can They Know?

When you want something you ask for it. If the other person is willing you receive what you asked for. That seems simple enough. But, when we begin to look at what is happening all around us we realize that there is something very wrong with our communications.

On the personal level there seems to be a growing problem: it comes out something like this.

"You knew what I meant. You just didn't want to do it."

Since everything you know is inside your brain, and everything they know is inside their brain, how could you possibly "know" unless they told you? Herein lies the problem: none of us are taking the time to do the things that are necessary to understand each other. Some of these things are:
1) listen
2) check to see if what you heard is what they think they said
3) think about your position
4) choose your words and actions with care
5) deliver those words with as much care as possible to assure proper interpretation.

So much for the idea that clear and concise communication is simple. But, there are things that we can do that will improve our chances. Listen with care. Avoid doing and thinking about other things while the other person is attempting to communicate with you. That may mean that you have to find a place that is quiet with fewer distractions. One example, turn off your cell phone and put it out of sight.

Analyze what you think you have just heard. Consider it. Then put the content into your own words and ask something like this: "Would I be correct in assuming that you. . ." If they confirm that you seem to understand what they said begin to construct your response. That is not a normal human characteristic. Instead we usually think, "I know what you're going to say and I feel. . ." If you are lucky you are sometimes correct about the idea you think you're about to hear. If you are normal, you're wrong.

Once you have a handle on what they think they said and you have formed a response, choose your words and actions with care. Deliver those words with great care and watch for the response from the other person. If the reaction isn't what you expected, examine what they might have done with what you said and make immediate repairs.

I know what you're thinking and I might be right: this whole thing is very time consuming. Correct. Effective communication takes time. The idea that we can do it all in life is just plain wrong. We can only some it effectively. Slow down, listen, consider and then respond.

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