Have you ever told a friend or co-worker something only to later find that they completely misunderstood you – or never heard you at all? We often share important information that isn’t properly received, even when the conversation happens in a private setting at close range. How does this happen?
Listening seems simple, but there may be a disconnect between listening and hearing: is the listener paying attention? Are they distracted? Are you expressing yourself in terms they will understand? Does your body language match what you are expressing?
According to Scientific American, processing language takes a fair amount of thought. If the meaning of any word they hear is unclear, it becomes harder to understand. In addition, people don’t often express themselves clearly; they forget important background, or they may mumble or choose the wrong word.
According to Simon Sinek, if you want to ensure people hear what you say,
- Ask the listener to repeat what she believes you said. Start with a clear request – “I want to make sure we’re on the same page, would you please describe what you believe I am asking of you?”
- Say it in two or more different ways. Example, “If you feel you need help on your project, it doesn’t help to complain to your co-workers. Go to the person who assigned you the project and who has the power to get you some assistance. Make sense?”
- Be brief. Reduce your thoughts to the least number of words that work. Once you’ve outlined your idea ask, “What do you make of that?” to see where gaps in understanding may be
Once you’re sure that the listener has heard exactly what you wanted them to hear, the rest of the conversation will be more productive because you’re both on the same page.
The road is easier together,