Sometimes I feel like I’m speaking another language when someone reflects back to me what I just said and it sounds very different than what I thought I said. There are many reasons for that and I’ve listed a few here:
How many languages do you speak? I speak accounting, business, construction, community planning, environment, pop science, food services and some agriculture and art. Each industry uses words that have specific meanings. Even the concepts and ways of thinking can be very different ( think lawyer and artist). All are appropriate in their own ways and they are necessary to do the work of that industry.
Most of what is communicated is not even about words. I can say, “Yeah” tersely, laughingly, loudly, softly, with rolled eyes, with crossed arms, close to your face, while looking away and with my eyes closed and every time it means something different. If you are thinking it, it comes across when you communicate: be careful what you are thinking. That’s why they tell you to smile when talking on the phone.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you knew you were meeting as far as the ideas were concerned, but there was still some irritation there? You weren’t connecting on a personal level. It may be because your personalities just don’t click. Some people like to take things slowly and mull them over for a while; others like making lightening fast decisions and moving on. Some people need to connect on a personal level; some just want the facts. Some like to talk fast, some talk slowly; some want eye and body contact, some are uncomfortable if they are too close. Some want to know all the possibilities and some just want to know the answer.
And sometimes emotion gets in the middle. When the words have nothing to do with the conversation, the subtext is the thing. Whatever the emotion: love, anger, fear, joy; the words take on new meanings and what is said is interpreted very differently. Try this. Take on an emotion and react to this statement, “Did you read that paper?” Seems like a pretty innocuous statement, but depending upon what lens you are listening through it can sound suggestive, accusing, threatening, or joking.
If you want more information about clean communication check out Dr Jeffrey Hosick’s Toolbox newsletter by emailing Sharon@JeffreyHosick.com He has a series of articles about Clean Communication and how to solve some of the problems I’ve listed.