True Communication is the Message Received

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True Communication is the Message that is Received

I had an interesting experience while waiting to board a flight.  The gate agent picked up her microphone and began giving boarding instructions.  A few seconds later, the voice of the mayor of that town came over the main PA system, at twice the volume of the gate agent, so no one in the boarding area was able to hear a word the gate agent spoke. What made the situation worse was the agent’s frustration with the passengers not following her instructions.  She was completely oblivious to the fact that her carefully crafted communication was not delivered.

We have all experienced a time when we have been misunderstood, despite our best effort to communicate. True communication is not the message given; it is the message that has been received.  Here are some ways to make sure that what you convey to someone is truly the message you wanted them to receive.

How do you communicate?

Each of us has a unique communication style that is natural for us.  Learn about your own style.  Are you direct and to the point? Do you speak quickly? Or are you the person who gives a thoughtful, detailed answer? (If you do not know your style, contact me for a DISC Communication Style Assessment.)

Once you understand your style, learn to recognize how your audience communicates. The person seeking a yes/no answer will tune out your 5-minute history lesson.  Likewise, there are people that need a detailed explanation, even when you think you do not have the time or patience to give it to them.  When possible, watch for visual cues.  Body language such as posture, eye contact, or eagerness are all ways to tell how or if your message is being received.

In conversation, stop and check for understanding. A simple, “Is that clear?” is all that it takes.  Asking for feedback or questions will help you to deliver your message more effectively.

Email – Friend or Foe?

Have you ever had a misunderstanding via email? One of the challenges with any written communication is that we cannot convey our tone or see a physical response.  As an example, Bill sends an email to Kiara asking her to follow up on a customer issue.  The reply is one word, OK. Is that “OK, I’m on it” or “I’m really busy, I’ll get to it?”   Fortunately, Bill knows that Kiara’s communication style is short and direct, so he assumes the former.  Still, it would be wise to confirm.

For those of us who are not novelists, it is challenging to express emotion in written communication.  Clarity is key, along with the invitation to seek clarity if the reader needs it. Be sure to give all pertinent information that the recipient will need.  Again, be mindful of their communication style.  Does the receiver prefer bullet points, or detailed instructions? Not sure? Look at the emails that they send to you.

One Size does Not Fit All

Taking the time to ensure your message is properly received and understood ultimately saves you time, effort, and money.  Make the effort to understand both your communication style, and the style of the person you are interacting with, then choose to use theirs.  Ask to verify understanding and respond with patience to questions or requests for clarification.  When you deliver your message, being mindful of your recipient’s needs will truly have an impact.

Want to learn more? Schedule a call with me here. 

Author: Sandy Merritt, Business Coach in Louisville, KY


True Communication is the Message Received