Miss Communication – Keep an Open Mind

Standard

How often have you taken a position on a topic, clearly communicate your opinion, and never seem to reach an agreement? It happens all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you communicate an idea or opinion. Sometimes the message just can’t get through because the person your communicating with are so focused on their opinion that they can’t truly hear what you’re trying to say.

We’ve all dealt with people whose mind was made up. If you’re honest with yourself I bet you’d say that, on rare occasion, you’ve been that person. I know I have. The problem is when you’re so focused on being right, and convincing someone else that you’re right, you can’t communicate.

You can talk. You can receive the messages that are sent to you, but you can’t understand them and process them without an open mind. If both people aren’t approaching the subject with a willingness to accept and consider the other person’s opinion the messages will always miss the mark. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing – it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

A pot bellied pig at Lisbon Zoo that doesn't want to sing

Doe he look like he wants to sing?

Not being open-minded and being unwilling to even hear the other person’s opinion is a huge pet peeve for me. I admit that there are people I avoid discussing certain topics with because there is no discussion. It turns into a one-sided explanation why the person is right and nothing I say or do will ever be considered. It’s not really a discussion if both sides aren’t free to support their side of the argument. I could have scientific proof, sworn testimony and expert opinion, but the other person will not accept any of it because they aren’t being open-minded.

I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes the best thing to do is walk away or try again later. I’m all for teaching the arts, but if that pig isn’t ready to sing there is no way I can teach it anything.

The next time you’re in a situation where you’re communicating and getting nowhere, ask yourself if you’re being open-minded. Are you willing and able to receive the messages you are being sent? Keep an open mind and really listen to what people are telling you. If not, you might be the one wasting someone’s time and getting annoyed.

Miss Communication – Sometimes it IS what you said

Standard

I recently posted that sometimes electronic messages aren’t well received because they can’t communicate things like sarcasm. But  that’s not the only time when you can be misunderstood. The words we choose for each email, tweet and blog post tell a lot about who we are. Words can help us make a great first impression, or a really REALLY bad one. The words we chose when we communicate can change the way other people feel about us, the product or company we’re marketing, or the story we’re telling.

They say that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never hurt us. Anyone who’s survived junior high and high school knows that isn’t always the case. Words may not leave a mark on the body but they sure can bruise the heart. Words have power. It’s up to each of use how we use that power.

It’s very easy to get upset and send off an email, or reply to a post, or text message without thinking about the words we use. Choose the wrong words and you might just find yourself in hot(ter) water. But, choose the right words and you can change the situation. You can win people to your way of thinking and sway them into listening to your message. Don’t believe me?

Think about all the news coming out of Washington D.C. The news is filled with each side’s opinion and spin on each and every situation. Sometimes they are talking about the same thing but they words they choose change the context completely. Politics is poster child of carefully chosen words. Words that admit to nothing but implicate everything. Politicians – and the people who craft their messages – know the power of words.

To be a good communicator, whatever the medium, you need to think about the words you choose to convey your message. Make sure that the words you choose help you convey message and persuade your audience to your way of thinking.

Miss Communication – It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.

Standard

Communication is a wonderful thing, it keeps us informed, allows us to share and bond along life’s weary road, and in many ways is under-appreciated. Everything we do, every move we make, every word we speak communicates volumes about us. How often do you take time to think about how you communicate?

There’s verbal and nonverbal communications. There’s written communication, and electronic communication. New forms of communication like Twitter and Facebook and texting have changed the way we communicate. All of these things are great. I’m sure you would agree that these are important. But do you stop and think about how you’re using it?

We’ve all been there. You write an email (or a text, or tweet) and is totally not received in the way it you thought it would. Email (and texts and tweets) can’t duplicate sarcasm or teasing in the way the human voice can. Or you’ve been following someone’s blog and finally get to hear them speak, only to learn that you can’t really connect with them when you hear them speak because their voice sounds so different from the way you imaged.

We all tend to get so busy and focused on what we want to say that we forget to think about who will be hearing the message. In my opinion, this is the most important part. It doesn’t matter how well crafted our message is if your audience isn’t able to understand the message, or interprets it incorrectly. Think about what you want them to hear, understand and remember – not what you want to say. There is power in every word you choose, so choose wisely.

Take a few minutes today and think about how you are communicating. Are you using video the right way? Are you sending emails when I phone call would be faster and save confusion? Are the words or action you’re choosing the right ones for the medium and the audience? A moment listening to your communication may just help you find a better way to say what you have to say.

Remember it’s not always what you say, it’s how you say it that can get you into trouble.