Do you ever have trouble communicating?
Miscommunication is a common problem for all of us. It happens all the time. It even occurs when we least expect it and we often don’t know it happened until it is too late.
Making ourselves understood isn’t always as easy as we think. However, there are numerous things we can do to improve our chances of being heard. It just takes a little attention to detail.
Better communication skills will help us to avoid arguments, achieve our goals and generally get more of what we want out of life.
Guidance to Avoid Miscommunication
Have you ever seen a person that is having trouble getting their point across try talking a little louder in hopes it will help them to be heard and understood?
I wished this worked, but it generally doesn’t. This is a perfect example of how we misdiagnose miscommunication problems. It doesn’t matter if we are communicating orally, in writing or visually, we often have a hard time figuring out the right things to do to communicate properly.
One of the steps I take when I want to improve an area of my life is to consult an expert. Therefore, I’ve gone to some of the greatest communicators in history to get their advice.
I’ve collected their quotes and distilled from them 10 powerful fundamentals to help us avoid miscommunication. I know you’ll find these helpful.
1. Never Assume You Were Heard Correctly
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
~ George Bernard Shaw
When your message is important, always check to be sure you were understood correctly. This alone will avoid a great deal of miscommunication. This is exactly why pilots have to repeat back to air traffic controllers the instructions they were just given. It avoids a lot of disastrous mistakes.
2. Don’t Let Your Emotions Take Over
“Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”
~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter
We are far better at communicating our desired message when we are calm, cool and collected. In the heat of the moment, we often say things we don’t really mean or say it in a way that confuses our listener. Always take time to compose yourself before you deliver an important message.
3. Account for Personal Differences
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” ~ Anthony Robbins
Effective communicators tailor their message to their audience. Do you speak the same to a young child as you do to your spouse? Most of us do not. However, we also usually fail to go far enough in adapting our message to our intended listeners or readers. We really need to get inside their heads if we want to be heard.
4. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
As a general rule, none of us spend enough time preparing, editing and revising our message as we should. We also fail to test our message with a sample audience to verify it will be understood as we intended. How many times have you asked yourself, “What were they thinking?” Don’t let this happen to you! A well-prepared communicator has a much better chance of getting the right point across.
5. Be a Good Listener
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
Of course, communication is a two-way street. When others are talking, I’m usually formulating what I want to say next instead of really listening to them. The better we listen and understand their point of view, the better we’ll be able to communicate our ideas back.
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”
~ Joseph Priestley
Always keep the K.I.S.S. principle at the front of your mind when you are composing an important message. Being simple and straightforward will usually get you the best results. Your intent is to be understood, not to impress.
7. Be Brief
“Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.”
~ Robert Greenleaf
When you say too much, your listener loses focus and often misses the point. Keep your message as brief as possible. Enough said.
8. Use GREAT Visual Aides
“Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” ~ Walt Disney
Visual aides when speaking or writing are superb ways to improve your chances of being heard and understood. You’ll find some excellent resources for designing top-notch visual aides in my article titled I’m Sorry I Blinked and Didn’t Hear You.
9. Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Practice
“The tongue is the only tool that gets sharper with use.”
~ Washington Irving
It is true that practice makes perfect. The more we practice good communication skills, the better we get. I’d also encourage you to invite someone to review your message that will provide honest feedback. This is how we learn and grow.
10. Don’t Forget About Body Language
“Saying nothing… sometimes says the most.”
~ Emily Dickinson
Remember, many experts believe that body language alone makes up more than 50% of what we communicate. Learn what to do and what not to do when it comes to body language. You can really confuse your audience if you get this wrong!
These Miscommunication Quotes Convey Great Wisdom
The wisdom in these quotes is priceless. Who better to learn from than some of the best communicators ever to live? Again, if you employ these fundamentals, you are sure to increase your chances of being heard. Now go out there and sell your ideas!
What other tips would you suggest for avoiding miscommunication? Leave a comment and let everyone in on it!
Photo by roland