“I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize, that what you heard, isn’t what I meant.”
~Unknown

This is one of my favorite quotes, even though I don’t know where it’s from. It captures the futility of communication better than anything else I’ve seen.

I teach communication. I sometimes think I’m good at communicating. I know that Thoughtful communication is at the heart of most successful collaborative endeavors.

And I know that it’s nearly impossible to communicate clearly and well all the time.

No matter how intentionally I choose my words and tone and pace and timing, there is still a chance that my communication will go sideways instead of landing successfully. And again, I teach communication.

Because inherent in communication is more than one person. The “speaker” and the “listener.” And once you have more than one person, you most likely have more than one meaning for a word or way to interpret a sentence or perspectives with which to view a story.

That is how communication goes awry.

I know how difficult it can be to express myself clearly enough that others can understand not just exactly what I’m saying but also the full meaning behind my words. Especially if it is an emotional topic or if passions are high. I’ve been known to say, “I don’t know how to say this in a way that sounds okay or that is clear. If what I’m saying is off-putting, that’s not at all what I mean. Please help me explain what I’m thinking in a way that you can hear and understand it.” Sometimes that works.

What I know is that communication requires both/all participants to do their best to be open, to do their best to hear what the other person actually means, and to do their best to remember that what the others hear probably isn’t what they meant.

How have you learned to communicate more clearly and effectively? What’s your best trick?
Please leave a comment.

If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.


If you want to get a bit better at communicating clearly, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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Photo Credit: cartoon resource/Bigstock.com

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