I’m not too humble to proclaim that clear communication is my strong suit.
Each day, I make a concerted effort to avoid misunderstandings with straightforward and thorough correspondence, whether I’m speaking or writing.
And when other people don’t take the time to interact with me in a similar way, I get a little … irked.
So, I was taken aback recently when I realized I was the source of multiple misapprehensions.
Damn … I got a taste of my own medicine
The first time it happened, I blamed it on my Southern California accent.
The second time it happened, I blamed it on being a cut-throat professional.
The third time it happened … I couldn’t ignore the pattern that was emerging.
People in both my personal and work lives think I’m being sarcastic or snarky when my intention is actually to be enthusiastic and sincere.
I understood that my way of communicating was indeed the problem, but my knee-jerk reaction was still to get a little defensive (and helpless).
“But it’s just how I am! What am I supposed to do about it?”
Well, there’s always something you can “do about it” …
1. Admit when you’re wrong
Communication is either effective or confusing, and my methods were causing confusion.
While I’m proud of the way I communicate the majority of the time, I had to admit I was the culprit in a few predicaments.
If I blamed other people for misinterpreting my true intentions, it would have just caused aggravation and limited the path to a solution.
Instead, I took a long, hard look in the mirror and decided I wanted to grow as a communicator.
2. Monitor your tone
My tone was the core issue here.
I felt like I was just talking naturally, but I needed to be more mindful about matching my tone to the topics of discussion.
Without second-guessing my contributions, I now take a moment to think about how my statement or response will sound to others.
I’ve caught myself several times before I speak potentially sounding rude or judgmental, but this process involves a lot of course-correction — meaning, I’ll say my “natural” thought first and then quickly follow up with an explanation that is more in line with the spirit of what I want to communicate.
I’m hoping that with practice I’ll increase the number of times I get it right on the first try. 🙂
3. Ask for feedback
Demonstrating that you care goes a long way.
When others see that you want to improve a situation, their attitudes about your behavior will likely soften.
Conversely, if your actions negatively affect a relationship — and you’re not making an effort to do a better job — the other person involved might feel disrespected.
To show you respect their opinions, ask for constructive feedback about how you can continue making smart choices.
Have you ever seized opportunities to fine-tune your communication skills?
Even if the truth stings a little, it’s a great reminder that staying open to making improvements helps us become the people we want to be.
Share your communication wins and blunders in the comments below.