Like talking into a tin can on a string like we used to do as kids. Well, maybe not every child did this but we certainly did.
Back to the subject – How can you get others to understand what you are saying?
Let me be clear – this is not about speaking another language, but it is about how to:
- minimise misunderstanding
- be more effective at communicating and save time
When we have a message to get across – whether it is aimed to influence, convince or inform others – it is important to make that happen. If it is slow or hard to achieve, then it can be really frustrating to have to repeat yourself.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why others may not “get” what you are trying to say
- The words you are using have a different meaning to what they understand. A colleague of mine tells a funny story of working in Africa with someone who said that they would be back to visit “just now”. My colleague “heard” that as being within the next hour or so. After waiting 4 hours she discovered that “just now” in that area is actually equivalent to “when I get a chance” and that within an hour is referred to as “now now”
- They do not understand the context that you are in and, perhaps more importantly, they may be in a different context. Let’s say you want something done “urgently” because you have a deadline of 4pm today. To a person who works to weekly deadlines not daily ones, urgent could mean “by the end of this week” when you meant “by the end of today”
- You are using different language to emphasise meaning. People learn (and speak) according to their preferences which can be broken broadly into Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. What that means is that a visual person will ask if you “see” what they mean, whereas others may find something “sounds” right or “feels” ok
Why does this matter?
We are all trying to get a message across. Whether it be in sales. Or at an interview. Perhaps in a meeting. Anyone with teenagers knows this feeling! You get the drift. Getting your message across is something that is important in all areas of our life – at work and at home.
Here are a few of my tips that will hopefully help.
- Remember that not everyone uses the same style to communicate. Learn to broaden the way you speak with others so you increase the chance of them hearing/seeing/getting your meaning.
- Focus on what you are trying to do. Beginning with “why” is something that not just Simon Sinek suggests, it is key to preparing your own message and also being able to understand what parts of that may have interest and impact for others. (No teenager has cleaned their room because it helps mum, but many have because it helps them)
- Take a little time to plan key messages and using a tried and proven model such as 4Mat can help. Begin with Why (for you and your audience) What (key ideas) How (almost the call to action) and What if (chances to be flexible)
Getting others to understand really has two key components
Know what you are trying to get across
Being prepared to adapt to connect with your audience