The more specific I try to be in my speech, the more ambiguity I can notice in how my phrases initially try to come out. It’s interesting how something as common as language can create so many different thoughts and ideas, which can modify our behavior. Because of this, I’m reblogging my post about communication, which keeps helping me in my journey of becoming a better communicator.
Jacques Salome and Sylvie Galland wrote in their book If Only I’d Listen to Myself the following:
“To express does not mean to communicate because it’s only one way ticket, while communication is a two-ways ticket.”
They also identified four steps that complete a true communication process:
- Expressing yourself;
- Getting confirmation that your speech as been proper understood;
- Listening to the other;
- Confirming that you understood what the other said.
It seems pretty straight forward, right? Based my experience, I can tell that this is harder than it looks. We’re usually expressing ourselves and that’s pretty much it so we’re getting stuck in step 1. Most of the time, the other won’t confirm that he/she understood what we said and they will express themselves and we’re “listening”, but after that, we’re expressing ourselves. I’ve noticed that steps two and four are not there most of the time. Usually, our own thoughts and ideas step in and we’re not even trying to understand what the other is really trying to say (maybe the right words aren’t being chosen from the first place, but that’s a different issue).
We sometimes confuse understanding with caring. We think that we need to care about someone to try to understand what they have to say, but I think it has nothing to do with that (of course, it might help). We should try to understand for ourselves so we make sure we have the whole picture in front of us before launching our own ideas into it. Let’s get a little forward with this. Steps 2 and 4 are useful from another point of view as well. It lets the “teller” understand if he/she truly expressed the desired idea or if the desired idea has been understood.
Most of the time, we assume that the other understood our ideas. Also, most of the time we assume we correctly understood what the other was trying to say, but how can we be sure if we don’t have that confirmation? This confirmation means that we should express the other’s idea how we understood it and give him/her the chance to do some corrections if necessary.
We encounter lack of proper communication every day and it can have big effects on ourselves and the ones around us (for example, The Berlin Wall fell due to a communication issue) so remember listening is a huge part of communication!
How do you make sure that your ideas are proper understood? Also, how do you make sure that you truly understand what your communication partner is trying to say?