We all have an internal dialogue in our heads. Some of us listen to it, some of us ignore it, a few of us hate it, and many more are simply in love with it. Our thoughts “are” who we are – but it is all too easy to become absorbed in them and limited by them. As the saying goes: “there is more to life.”
When we communicate, we exchange our thoughts with the thoughts of others, but to communicate effectively there should be a decent amount of truly two-way traffic. We have to make space in our heads for the thoughts of others to mingle with our own thoughts. Too many of us live with the same old thoughts on repeat, and although we hear the words of others, we do not let them “in.”
If there are two people who don’t really care about what the other is saying (and why they are saying it), it is all too easy for each of them to assume falsely that the other is hearing and processing their thoughts. In actual fact, nothing of the sort is taking place.
Assuming that you are being understood is one of the most dangerous tendencies in the modern workforce, and certain people bulldozer through their days on loudspeaker mode, with no desire or ability to understand where everyone else is coming from.
The same often happens in client relationships. One party has their view of a certain situation, and the other party has a differing view. Neither is willing to spend the time to explore the differences and find a common ground, and the gulf in their relationships widens. Sales people are often found guilty of this, but in actual fact, it can happen in any relationship.
Are you sure that your messages are being interpreted correctly?
There is one simple way to make sure…. When a message is particularly important, it is worth clarifying that there is understanding. This doesn’t need to be in a patronising parent/child manner, and it can certainly be couched in different language, but repeating yourself is not always a bad thing. It gives the other person a chance to repeat their thought process and offers them a way out to say “well, actually no, I didn’t quite get it.”
If you seek clarification of understanding every now and again, it will soon become clear where the work lies. You will be on the same wavelength with some and on different planets with others. It is easy to communicate via the people who understand you, and that is the default setting for many of us. However, the true communicators seek to build bridges with those who don’t quite “get them.”
If you admit it to yourself, you already know the individuals where work is required. Conversations always finish with that uneasy, nagging feeling of “will they do what we discussed?” It doesn’t have to be that way. Grab the bull by the horns, be open about the fact that there are often misunderstandings, and you will be able to both concentrate on understanding each other that little bit better next time.
Do you get where I am coming from?
Written by Alex Turner, Edited by Paul Drury