In less than a minute you can share your opinion with the entire world.
Whether it be through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or another social app, the focus is on getting your voice out there. Louder. With more pizazz. With more frequency.
This M.O., or modus operandi, has reached beyond the walls of our digital communication and is now penetrating our in-person conversations.
The problem is that sometimes we don’t realize that, in order for our message to be effective, it has to be both received and understood by another . . . be it a friend, a family member, a coworker, or another intended audience.
Just because you said something doesn’t mean anyone heard it.
Think about a stoplight. It hangs over an intersection so you can receive what it has to say.
The stoplight has 3 basic ways of communicating to you, and you have to take both an eye test and a driver’s examination to prove that you have the ability to receive and understand what each color light means.
If something obstructs your view of the stoplight, you cannot receive what it has to tell you.
In the same way, if you’ve never seen or heard of a stoplight before and you happen to see one, you won’t be able to understand what it is telling you. You receive the communication, but you don’t understand it.
What does this mean for us?
The best conversations come in the context of relationships. Why? Because relationships are built on understanding and, then, valuing others. As we gain knowledge about individuals, we see their special worth, and we can honor them in better ways.
And when we know and value someone, we care about what they have to say.
How then, do you become a good communicator?
It’s counterintuitive but easy. Start with being a good listener. When you pause, still yourself (that means put the phone down and look at them), and really listen to what someone has to say, you’ll demonstrate that you value them.
As they feel valued, they’ll engage. You’ll receive what they have to say, and as it makes sense to you, your ability to respond and “speak their language” will increase. Thus they’ll receive and understand both what you are saying and why.
And that’s good communication.
Until next week, Grace & Peace.