Friday, June 27, 2014

No One Took You Wrong... You Said It Wrong!

You Are 100% Responsible For How People Take Your Communication
How many times have you said, or heard, "he took me the wrong way" or "they misunderstood what I was saying"?
When communicating your thoughts, you are completely responsible for making sure the other person understands the idea you intend to convey. 
Being a good communicator means more than simply stating our thoughts.
It means:
  • Stating our thoughts clearly, and in terms that can be easily understood by our intended audience.
  • Watching the facial expressions and body language of the people to whom we are communicating, to see that we are getting the reaction we expect.
  • When we are unsure if the other person has understood us in the way in which we intended, we are responsible for making sure.
  • We should ask the other person something like "What did you hear me say"?
  • If they heard anything other than what we intended, it is our responsibility to restate our thoughts until they hear us as we intended.
  • It is our responsibility to be aware if we have hurt their feelings, or insulted them.  If we catch it right away, we can often repair the damage pretty easily with an honest apology and restating our thoughts.
Yes but...  What about the arguments like...
"People will hear what they want to hear"?
It's up to us as Leaders to make sure everyone with whom we are communicating hears what we intend for them to hear.  Yes... everyone knows this one exception... the person who seems to choose not to understand, or who has already decided what we intend and cannot be swayed.  These are extreme cases, so please do not get caught up in them.  If this happens to you quite often, the problem may be your communication style.
How about... "I can't make anyone feel anything, we each choose how we feel"?
Theoretically it is true that we cannot make another person feel any particular way.  And in reality, most people are too caught up in their thoughts and emotions to be fully present.  The truth is that most of us are not emotionally intelligent enough, nor present enough to choose our emotions from minute to minute.  Unkind words, anger, projected emotions, or simply poor communication can, and often will, result in hurt feelings.  Once we are aware of hurt feelings, we are responsible for making an attempt to clear things up.
What about "I could not have said it any more clearly"?
There is no one correct communication style, and to think that your choice of words in any given moment can be universally understood by every person, no matter their emotional state, is a bit arrogant.  You are not responsible for the emotional state of the other person, and you are responsible for making sure your thoughts are understood as you intended, no matter the emotional state of the other person.  Its called empathy... understanding the emotions of another person.  If we understand how they are feeling, we can more easily state our thoughts in a way that they can understand.
Do you feel that the communicator is responsible for whether or not they are heard as they intended?
This post is a rewrite/update of a post originally found on

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