I've learned the hard way (as I choose to learn everything, because why make it easy on myself when I can go through unnecessary pain and angst trying to learn in twice the time what everyone else learns the easy way?) that I'm not the world's best communicator. I mean, I THINK I'm an AWESOME communicator. No, really, there have been times when I've been absolutely certain I've communicated clearly in person, only to find later that not only did I not communicate well, the person doesn't even remember the conversation. There have also been times where I have later described myself as "kicking and screaming to be heard" only to find that the person I was throwing a fit for thought I was being funny.
In fact, I'd say that apart from the written word, I'm pretty terrible at communicating in normal conversation when it really matters.
So, I'm trying to be better. Here's what I'm doing.
1. I say what I really mean--I like words. I like finding super special ways to say things. Some might say "sugarcoat". But when I'm really trying to get my point across? I gotta say what I really mean. And sometimes that means using words that are harsh, or brutally honest, or even saying things that might be hurtful to the person hearing it. THIS DOESN'T MEAN I'M RUDE (sheesh, nothing I hate more than people who say they're "brutally honest" but they're really just rude). I does mean that sometimes I have to put it out there in the simplest way possible, using the fewest, most direct words possible.
2. I say what I really mean again, if needed--Yeah, you heard me.
3. I'll ask if I was understood--Nothing like a nice clarifier to make sure you are really heard. No yes or no questions here, folks, but questions like, "What are you hearing me say?" or "What do you think about what I just said?" will get the person you're speaking with to let you know if they really understood and digested what you said. Asking these questions might mean that you need to repeat steps one and two, but hey, you'll figure out if you're making progress or not.
4. I restate the conversation--Recap, if you will. I'll restate what I originally tried to communicate, repeat what the person I'm communicating with said, and recap what I'm hoping the result of the conversation will be.
I'm getting there. I'm not going to lie and say I don't wish that I could type every conversation in parable form, but I'd say, as painful as it is, I'm getting it.
What about you? Do you think you're a good communicator? How do you communicate well?