You feel like you are the only one this happens to
We often feel like we are the only one who can’t get things across to others. But the truth is miscommunication happens often. Others will often misunderstand us. And we often misunderstand each other.
Why It’s Hard for Us To Understand Each Other
Anyone you communicate with receives information through the lens of their own complex history. That and everything they now experience in their lives, drip-feeds into their conscious mind. They are experiencing everything through their own personal lens i.e. their own set of beliefs, emotional triggers and experiences. What most of us forget is that their beliefs and experiences are often very different from ours.
A Dirty Windscreen
Their lens can be like a dirty windscreen. Imagine they are following a truck that is leaking manure in the rain. It’s very difficult for them to see you trying to get their attention when they are trying to manage everything that is affecting their view. If they turn on the windscreen wipers, as we know, it always gets worse before it gets better. So even though your friend or colleague is trying to be present to you they may not be able to take much in properly. You’ll be happily explaining your wonderful idea or request, but they have no idea what you are talking about. And that’s because all of their other ‘stuff’ has to be cleared out of the way first.
Getting Rid of the Dirty Windscreen
What if you were to wave the car down (metaphorically), get the person to pull over and jump in the car. It’s a crappy day, so turn the engine off and take a moment for both of you to settle in. Get clear in your head about what you want to communicate, because you can’t stay here in the car on the side of the road for too long.
You have now removed the muddy window by getting closer and becoming properly present to each other. You are both inside the same car now. So take a moment to form a crucial connection where you can both focus on each other. This is when you can start communicating without the barrier of the muddy window that was between you.
Reflecting to avoid miscommunication
Once you have got each other’s undivided attention you can begin to address the issue. Explain how you want this to be a fruitful meeting and ask for permission to get feedback now and then so you both know you are on the same page. Then go ahead and talk about the issue. Seek feedback by asking:
“What does this mean to you?” or
“I may not have explained that very well. Would you like to tell me what you heard?
Listen as they reflect back the message they got from listening to you.
You’ll often be amazed at how different it is to what you were trying to say. And it’s incredible how your intention can be misinterpreted when speaking! By doing this you will find any misunderstandings which you can correct as you go along. Don’t be afraid to ask for further feedback. Once you both have the same understanding you are winning!
Added to the muddy window of our own personal history and emotional triggers is any cultural influence which inhibits our ability to be totally truthful when we speak. Customs to do with civility and politeness, what is regarded as being kind, and our status in regard to the other, influence how we manage the relationship.
We Often Pretend
We will often pretend that we are happy when we are not. We will often avoid conveying our simple truth out of pressure to conform, or from fear of repercussions. We don’t want to appear rude or callous or uncaring and so often we swallow our truth.
So it’s very easy for mixed and muddled messages to come across. We are trying to keep this person happy while also trying to get our message across. And that can be totally at cross purposes. It can get very complicated! When we continually try to please others we often get misunderstood. This is because our real message is not coming through clearly. It is becoming muddied by all the cultural niceties.
A Low Expectation For Ourselves
The other person will often not be conscious of this, but if they always experience you putting yourself last what you say will not seem important. So they don’t really listen or take you seriously.
Give Up Being a People Pleaser
So it’s better to give up trying to please other people. Others will become displeased with us for all sorts of reasons. But often that’s more about how they are in the world, what they believe, how they feel, and what eyes they look out of. In other words, depending on their lens they will either be someone who is usually fairly happy with everything or not. And you are part of their ‘everything’.
Their Displeasure Often Has Little to Do With Us
Most of their displeasure with us has little to do with us, and a lot to do with their own ‘dirty windscreen’ of history and experiences. So if you try to please others all the time, some will still not like you or be displeased with you. And you are more likely to be misunderstood.
Stay Focused on the Outcome You Want
So take your focus off trying to keep the other happy and get clear on what it is you want to communicate. Know what message you need to get across. Keep some notes handy if you need to, so you stay on track. Focus on the outcome you want at the end, and work towards that.
Good Communication Gives Us Power
Very few people are fully in charge of their own communication. Many others don’t know how to communicate clearly enough to get what they want. When you are a clear communicator you more easily become powerful in the world. You can make things happen.
Giving Your Power Away
But if you feel that you are not important enough to get your needs met, you lose your power. Instead it is given over to any other who is greatly focused on what they want.This is Ok if you don’t want anything, but if you do, you need to be sure that your demeanour is expressing how you know you deserve respect and help or anything else you are communicating about.
Focus On The Outcome You Want
When you get clear about what you want to happen without worrying about what others think, you become a much more powerful in your communication. The singular focus and belief that you deserve to be treated well sets you up to be treated with respect and taken seriously. It also allows you to let others also express what they want without judgement. You allow them time to be heard and understood too. You become more powerful, more clear and more in charge of your own life as you learn these skills. You don’t have to become corrupt, harsh or uncaring to be able to cross over into a world of respect and better fortune.
Focus On What You Are Trying to Do
But stay focused on your own life and try not to care too much about what others think. This is different from not caring about your friends or colleagues’ wishes. You can care about others without moving into a place of low expectation for yourself. You will find that you start to become regarded as a leader and as a great communicator when you practice these 6 things:
6 Steps to Clear and Powerful Communication
- Know what you want to achieve.
- Get your message clearly thought out before communicating. Have notes if necessary.
- Ask for feedback, so you know they’ve understood what you are communicating.
- Take time to clarify any misconceptions.
- Be focused on the outcome you want instead of trying to please the other person.
- Listen deeply when the other communicates and offer feedback so you are both clear.
If you practice these steps they will help you to get clarity and progress in any communication, whether it’s in a personal or professional setting. The more you practice, the better you get at it!
Katie Kalin is a kinesiologist and coach practicing in Ireland and New Zealand. She offers online sessions for any personal or professional challenge. For a €40 consultation go to www.bit.ly/kate40special