Communication 102: Deliver a message that can be heard.
In follow up to an earlier post, "Communication 101: Know what you want," I'd like to tackle a second important step in positive and open communication:
Deliver a message in a way it can be heard.
The first step I covered earlier: Know and be clear about what you want or need before you try to communicate with your partner, friend, child, whoever! Understand for yourself what you want or need so you can effectively get help meeting the need.
If you know clearly what you want or need, then you can ask for it!
Which leads to the second step: delivering a message in a way it can be heard by your audience.
Using the previous post example: let's say you're feeling a little edgy and grumpy, tired of the long work days, worn out by parenting obligations, and spread thin by all the other commitments that go along with day-to-day life.
If you've taken the time to figure out what your need or want is, you may have realized that you are feeling a little neglected, lonely, and disconnected from your partner. You may have realized what you need is some quality time together.
Having figured out what you want or need, your next step is to share it in a way that your partner can hear and receive your message.
What does it mean to deliver a message in a way it can be heard? Many things come into play which affect how easily someone is able to hear and then act on your message.
A quick google search will give you tons of statistics and opinions about the percentage of communication that is non-verbal. Without wading too far into the weeds, the general idea is this:
Much of our communication involves things other than the actual words we use.
Our tone, our pace, our volume, and our body language all come into play.
If you want your partner to get the message "I need some one-on-one time with you," you'll benefit from being very intentional about choosing your tone, how quickly you talk, how loud or soft you are, and the message your overall body language conveys as well. A loud, harsh voice, or standing in a defensive or aggressive manner--well, your message is likely to get missed.
Even more broadly, being heard is very dependent upon choosing an optimal time to deliver your message.
Engaging in a serious conversation about anything within 30 minutes of bedtime is not generally a good choice.
Starting a conversation about a challenging topic while your audience is busy with something else, or involved in something they really enjoy doing, is also unlikely to give them the best opportunity to hear what you need them to hear.
Here's what you can do:
If possible, let your audience know ahead of time that you would like to talk and what you'd like to discuss. Shoot him or her a text before you leave the office saying "Hey, I'd like to talk to you tonight about setting up a time to spend together."
Choose a time offering enough room in the schedule so that neither of you is feeling pressured by another time commitment. Find a time when there is a lull in the action.
Choose a place which is fairly neutral, and preferably with few distractions. if there are other distractions, your message may get lost in the noise. Try to choose a place where you can focus together on the conversation.
Give your audience the opportunity to think about what you've said Remember, you've taken the time to figure out what you need, now give them a chance to process the information so they can respond.
First step: Know what you need or want
Be intentional in your delivery, choose to deliver the message in a way your audience can hear you and respond.
Better than results you can expect from hoping your audience will read your mind?