There are so many hurdles to communicating effectively, whether you’re in an informal conversation or using strategic messages for business.
But there are two hurdles to communication that I despise, and I think if everyone addressed them, we would all communicate better.
The reason I despise these is because they are so prevalent and bound to happen anytime we are in a conversation or communicating with someone face to face.
The two are distraction and assumptions.
Let’s look at both of them.
I’ve been in so many meetings with clients that I know when they are not listening. I am super focused on where they are mentally, so they can get the message I am trying to deliver.
Usually, I just wait for them to come back to me. They will pull their phone out and I will stop talking and they will say something like, “I am listening.”
But I know better. They are not. I usually say, “I know you can’t hear me, so I will just wait to speak.”
Most of the time it will make the person laugh and when they’re finished I will have their full attention again.
But once someone actually replied, “Oh really? That’s interesting.”
Clearly, this person was not listening.
We are all so distracted as a society that one of us will get distracted in a conversation by a notification on our phone, a thought of an action item, or just because our attention span won’t last.
I usually just take a break. They need one and I do too because I am frustrated.
My wife is a registered nurse. She’s super smart. Way smarter than I am. Sometimes I will ask her about medical stuff.
In her response, she will use a scientific name or an acronym. It infuriates me. The reason is that it is impossible for me to know what she is talking about. I don’t have the same knowledge she has, yet she always assumes I know exactly what she is talking about.
At first, I thought when she used big words she just wanted to sound smart. But it isn’t so. It’s just how her brain thinks, and she thinks everyone thinks like her.
It wastes so much time, too. She will explain to me how the flu works, but she will use the medical terminology and she has to go back and explain everything that I don’t understand. And since I am a communication guy, I make her explain everything.
Of course, now I think she just uses big words to make sure I am listening. I get super distracted by my phone.