The basic reason for communication is to prompt some behavioral change or action. We know that when we communicate, we do NOT transfer a precise bit of information. Even when we accurately use the correct words or gestures to express what we want to, there is no guarantee how it will be received, because they do not have meaning themselves, but rather people give meaning to the words and gestures. Effective communication is only accomplished in a two way relationship.

When communicating, we know how we feel about other people’s ideas, and we also know what we BELIEVE other people feel about our ideas. We do not know how other people feel about our ideas, and what other people believe they know about your ideas.

Understanding this emotional component will facilitate mutual understanding. Other people engaged in conversation with you are first gauging how they think you feel about what they are saying, and then evaluating your ideas. When you put all these pieces together, and attempt to understand others, you can begin to have empathy for them.

To improve the likelihood that the your communication is being understood, follow these principles:

  1. Be logical. Our minds function in an orderly fashion and can only concentrate on one thing at a time. It may be helpful to develop a list of key points first.
  2. Be alert. We interpret the words we are hearing into pictures. If there seems to be a disconnect between you and those you are communicating with, ask questions to understand the picture they are creating. Do you need to change the way you are communication in regards to pace or detail?
  3. Be brief. When it comes to words more is not better. Choose your words carefully.  Many times we use an excessive number of words and increase the likelihood of misunderstandings.
  4. Listen for understanding

As you develop your ability to expressively communicate, you will gain the respect of those you work with.

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