What’s all this fuss about communication??

The fuss is because it’s so difficult and challenging to communicate effectively. We think it should be easy, but the fact is it’s far from that. Remember the game you played as a kid where everyone sat it a big circle and the first person whispered in the ear of the one sitting next to them and so on until the last person would repeat what they heard. It was never the same, and usually not even close to what the first person said.

What we say is not always what someone hears. What we hear is not always what someone meant. There are so many possible misinterpretations in what appears to be a simple dialogue. So just take that as a given, and you’ll be on the right track.

What you can do to help facilitate good communication includes things such as using “I” messages; talking about yourself instead of the other so they are less likely to feel criticized, become defensive and more likely to really hear you, take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings instead of saying “You (or that) made me feel…”, and use reflective listening when necessary, “What did you hear me say?” or “I heard you say…”.

Other tips include asking for permission before offering input or an opinion (I call this “knocking before entering”) and accepting “no” if that’s the answer you get. Perhaps most crucial of all, speak to the other person with respect and truly listen, which also indicates respect. It’s also important to consider boundaries-yours and the person you are speaking with, and to make sure those are respected as well, be they verbal, emotional or physical.

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