Communication is key, is it not? How often do we experience communication misunderstandings in our relationships? We communicate poorly with friends, family, co-workers and significant others. You say something with a particular meaning, and the other person receives it with an entirely different meaning than you intended. Often, the misunderstood meaning is one that is confusing and offensive resulting in some sort of spat.
Parents seem to be great at doing this with their children, particularly their adult children. Siblings also have a well-developed skill at knowing just what to say and how to say something to set the other off. Maybe it's intentional in that instance.
The very opposite of saying something and being misunderstood, is saying nothing at all which is almost worse. Saying nothing leaves people to assume your position while you forfeit the opportunity to share your thoughts.
After having made many mistakes, I have tried to learn a few things that I'll share with you.
1. Seek to understand before being understood. When you are listening to someone, it is a good idea to repeat what you heard and ask, "Did I understand correctly?" This is a hard habit to develop, as we are always ready and willing to jump in with our thoughts before fully understanding the situation. This communication technique is the fifth habit in Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
2. Over-communicate. Make the effort to say the things you think are easily understood as well as those things that are part of the unwritten conversation. You may think you are being silly by stating what is obvious to you, but it is not always obvious to the other person. Sometimes I will do this and the other person says, "I know that." to which I reply, "I am sure you did. I've learned to over communicate over the years, so please forgive my efforts to avoid a misunderstanding."
This may help circumvent arguments and scuffles, or it may help you communicate through disagreements to progress and recover at a more rapid pace. Whatever the situation, it's good practice and a skill that can continue to be developed over a lifetime.
Effective communication is a real goal to aspire towards in your personal and professional development. My mentor, Rhonda Shasteen, is a phenomenal communicator. She is polite, clear, crisp and diplomatic all at the same time. I have no doubt her communication skills are part of what attributed to her outrageous success at Mary Kay.
Go and try to be a better communicator because you can!