Do you ever wonder how you can say something so simple, yet the person you’re talking to hears something completely different? As someone wise once said, WORDS MEAN THINGS! And it’s true. We need to be aware of the choice of words we use in conversation. You’ve probably heard the statistic that approximately 90% of communication is UNspoken. Current research would argue with that number.
A recent article in Psychology Today suggests some far different statistics. But beyond statistics pertaining to verbal and nonverbal communication, the more important elements have to do with the context in which the communication takes place, the clusters of gestures used in the conversation (e.g. is the communicator’s jaw clenched out of anger, or is she cold?), and the congruence of the words spoken, the tone of voice, and the accompanying body language.
Yes, I know, that’s a lot of psycho-mumbo-jumbo to take in. But what it boils down to is that not only do our words matter, but so do our tone of voice and our body language. When all three align properly, communication becomes clearer, and relationships go smoother.
Put another way, if someone repeatedly misunderstands you or assigns meaning to your communication that in no way fits your intent, ask some questions. First, ask yourself if perhaps you are feeling something you didn’t realize was coming through–such as unresolved anger or bitterness. Second, ask the person who misunderstood you what it was about the conversation that led him or her to believe you meant something far different than you intended. Work to clear the air and to restate your thoughts if necessary.
The fact of the matter is that everyone has stuff going on all the time. Sometimes people assume negative intent because they are feeling negative. Other times, like I mentioned above, we aren’t being honest with ourselves or with them, and they see beyond our facade.
The most important thing to remember is that relationships matter because people matter. The people in our lives, whether co-workers, family members, or friends are worth the investment of our time, our energy, and our efforts to communicate clearly. We all have a responsibility to communicate clearly and to listen well, and to improve communication is to improve your relationships.
Now go and make today count! 🙂 (And share some of your communication horror stories in the comment section below…if you dare….) 😉
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