How often have you wondered what someone else was thinking? Do you ever think someone hasn’t heard what you said? Were they hearing you, but not really listening? Are you communicating what you want and what you need?
The truth is, we are not mind readers, we don’t know if people heard us, and sometimes, (alright fine, most times) we don’t say what we mean despite our best intentions.
As counselors, too often we hear people say, “well I think they understood me, how can they not?” Of course, then we must reply, well, what did you actually say?
If we want to be heard, we have to speak clearly. Beating around the bush does not do anyone any good!
Below are some tips to help you communicating clearly:
Use “I” statements when you talk about what YOU are feeling and needing. This stops you from sounding like you are blaming the other person, which can make the them feel attacked and take the discussion to a more negative level. If you say, for example, “I need you to call me when you are going to be late. I worry when I haven’t heard from you.”, the other individual cannot argue with that. After all, it’s how YOU feel. This way, no blame is communicated, only the feeling or need that you want the other person to understand and consider.
You do not need to be a psychic and the other person should not expect you to be one. When communicating, if you have any doubt about what has just been said or you’re still not sure what is making the other person upset, ASK! It’s worse to assume something that is wrong and then jump to the wrong conclusion.
Watch your tone as sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it that can make or break the communication. Keep your tone respectful, loving, positive and such that it invites collaboration.
Stay on topic, do not become sidetracked in your thought processes. Ask for what you need versus complaining about what happened.
Be clear and concise; the most effective way to get your point across is to make it in a clear and concise manner. Avoid using complex, convoluted sentences, and try to state your argument in direct language. Before speaking, ask yourself, “What is the clearest way I can make my point?”