Over the past few days, I’ve been ruminating about how to communicate more clearly. Sometimes, I start a conversation with my wife, and I quickly realize that she’s not tracking me. My initial response is one of irritation. “What’s her problem?”I ask myself. “What I’m talking about is so clear to me, “ the inner dialogue continues. “Maybe she’s just not paying attention,” is the final note from the inner voice.
As I sit looking over these words, I realize that what’s off isn’t her listening, it’s my speaking. So what’s up? It seems that the more familiar I am with someone, the more quickly my mouth gets engaged. I’m not sure why this is so, but what’s important is recognizing that I don’t consider what I’m going to say before words start tumbling out.
Clear communication is such an important part of relationships. Misunderstanding and distrust are fostered by lack of clarity. If you’re like me, you want your most important relationships to have the qualities of authenticity and trust. This doesn’t happen automatically. It comes from absolute deliberateness.
I have been operating with a belief that is not helpful. I have thought that with those to whom I’m closest, I can just be loose and free with my talking. This lack of attention has a cost, I realize, that I’m unwilling to continue to pay.
So what do I do? Well, I am implementing a time delay (could be as short as a few milliseconds) before my mouth starts. In this delay, I will feel if what I’m about to communicate is important to speak and if so, what’s the most effective way to communicate so that it is understood.
I have been in the world of business and technology for many years. If I use language that has very specific meaning in this world with someone who doesn’t have the same background, confusion will be the certain outcome. A more effective way of speaking is finding words that convey the essence of what I want someone to understand so that they can relate to it.
Well, I’ve got my work cut out for me. This is so important that it has moved to the top echelon of importance. I will let you know how it’s working out in a few weeks.