I hope you’ve been having a lovely week so far. Today I want to share with you why miscommunication is your problem, not your audience’s problem. Now, I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I just want the best for you and your clients.
If someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, then it’s your job to fix it. If they don’t understand you, it doesn’t mean they’re stupid, dumb, or insert any other derogatory word. Likewise, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or will never be able to communicate clearly. All it means is that you didn’t make your message clear enough. The good news is that it’s totally in your control to learn from this and improve your communication for next time. So, buckle up while I show you how to do just that! ?
Why communication is on you
Imagine you work at an IT help desk (like I did when I was younger). You’ve got 5 minutes left before your shift ends, but the phone rings. You answer it and the client is asking you how to add an email signature to their emails. The conversation goes like this:
You: Go to the settings, click on email signature, and then click on edit.
Them: I don’t know where the settings are.
Now, here’s a little choose your own adventure . . . what would your response be?
a) You say, “Not my problem, byyyyeeeee” and promptly hang up on them.
b) You say, “Just click on the settings button” and get frustrated at them for not knowing where it is.
c) You say, “Click on the file button in the top left-hand corner of your screen and then click on settings”. If they still didn’t understand, you would keep changing the way you explained it to make sure they got there in the end.
Can you see the difference? In option a), you put your need of leaving on time first and didn’t care about the client’s needs. In option b), you didn’t take responsibility for changing the way you communicated and just repeated what you’d said previously. But in option c), you not only took responsibility for changing the way you communicated, but you also put your client’s needs above your own.
There’s a powerful difference between all of these responses in terms of the service you provide to your students and clients. Taking responsibility for your communication shows your students and clients that you value them and want the best for them, which makes them feel safe, supported, and cared for. And when they’re feeling these things, what are they going to do? They’re going to have a better experience with your school or organisation. They’re also going to tell their friends, family, and other community members how truly amazing your organisation is, which means you’ll help more people and make a positive impact in their lives.
How to take responsibility for your communication
Taking responsibility for the way you communicate fundamentally changes the way you perceive the world. You go from outwardly putting the blame on others when they don’t understand you to reflecting on your own communication and how you can make your messaging clearer. You go from frustration to curiosity. From blame to responsibility. It might sound like it’s hard to do, but it’s actually really easy to get started.
Here’s some really simple yet effective steps you can take right now to take responsibility and communicate more effectively with your students and clients (or anyone for that matter!).
- Don’t get frustrated when there’s a miscommunication. See it as an opportunity to practice refining your message and communication skills.
- When there’s a miscommunication, be curious. Why did the miscommunication happen? What could I change next time to make my message clearer?
- Realise that you have the power to fix miscommunications through changing the way you speak and write.
- Stop and think about what your audience actually needs.
- Ask yourself how can I serve them to the best of my ability?
- Ask yourself how can I change the way I’m speaking or writing to accommodate their needs?
- Ask yourself what outcome is this person looking for and what can I change in the way I’m communicating to help them get there?
This Week’s Challenge
So my friend, my challenge for you this week is to leave the frustrations behind and start focusing on being curious about your communication. Ask yourself the above questions to get started.
Remember that the power to communicate clearly and effectively is within us all. It doesn’t have to be hard. As long as you keep your audience’s best interests at heart and come from a place of love, support, and commitment, then you’ll be able to fix any miscommunications you may have.