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Communication is more than what you say, but how you say it.

Communication is more than what you say, but how you say it.

When it comes to communication, I think people feel like they are better communicators than they really are. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you feel like you communicated something really well and yet the receiving party seemed to just not get it?

Well, you’re not alone. Most people think they really are great communicators.

So if you’re such a great communicator, why don’t people understand what you just said to them? It’s probably not only related to what you communicated, but also how you communicated with them.

When you’re communicating with others in the workplace, I recommend that you pay attention to other factors besides what is actually coming out of your mouth, such as:

  1. Location, location, location. Check to make sure that you are choosing a location that is best for both of you in the conversation. The actual location can really make or break a conversation so it’s important that you pay attention to where you are instigating the conversation. Perhaps talking about an important team initiative while bumping into somebody in the hallway is not an ideal location.
  2. Time of day. Just like location is important to the successful conversation, time of day may be just as important. I know for myself my clearest thinking time is first thing in the morning, so if I need to have an important discussion with somebody I always try to have that conversation as early in the day as possible. But what is really important is to take into consideration what is the best time of day for the other person. It’s better to catch them at a good time for them AND for you, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and communicate with them at a time that’s best for them.
  3. Your body language. How you are physically in the moment will make a difference on what is being heard. If you are lording over somebody with your arms crossed and standing over them in a power stance, they are probably going to be very intimidated. But maybe you want to intimidate them. But if you are really seeking to understand and collaborate in a conversation, perhaps standing over someone with your arms crossed is not the best idea. Also the look on your face says a lot about what you’re trying to communicate. If you feel like you are not being heard in conversations, I highly recommend you ask somebody to give you honest feedback about your body language. You’ll be surprised at how many things that you do physically that are being heard much more than the actual words coming out of your mouth.
  4. Their body language. Just like your body language is important, so is their body language. If you notice that the person is not looking at you, not engaged in the conversation like nodding, or looking at you, it’s likely that they are really not listening to what you have to say. So it doesn’t matter how great of a communicator you think you are, in this kind of the situation they are not listening to you.
  5. Other people who can hear the conversation. If it’s truly an important conversation, I recommend that you choose a place for the dialogue where no one can hear what you are talking about. Think about what is going to make that person the most comfortable for your discussion, so that they will communicate with you openly and without worrying about what other people are hearing.

At the end of the day, you may think that you are the best communicator, but it’s really important that you strive to really seek to create an environment where they can hear you best, and where you feel like you can be heard best.

What do you do to ensure that you are heard effectively?