“I Heard You Twice the First Time”

Don’t you just love that expression? I learned it from Joanne, who participated in a management offsite that I facilitated. We had been discussing the need to “over communicate,” especially given enormous information overload. Her comment made a great impression on everyone around the table.

People become frustrated when their colleagues or co-workers don’t recall what they said. The fact is, people cram in so much information that some things just don’t get processed.

The problem arises when we assume that people (1) listen to you and (2) remember what we say, and that assumption isn’t accurate.

One of the important things to understand is that listeners aren’t intentionally ignoring you or forgetting what you said.

Rather, they are distracted by countless competing thoughts floating around in their minds. When you become aware that their distractions compete with what you’re saying, you become more mindful of how you communicate.

So many communication breakdowns can be avoided by becoming both a better listener and a more effective speaker. You can work on these skills continuously when you are committed to communication excellence.

Use your powers of observation over the next few days to assess yourself. Consider these questions:

+ How well are you listening?

+ How effectively are you conveying your message?

+ Do you proactively adapt the language you use depending on the audience and the situation?

+ How easily are you distracted from the current conversation and what are you doing to return to being present?

Yes, this takes some work; but in the end, the outcome is worth it because this self-knowledge can make you a better communicator. Give it a try and let me know what you discover.

Header image by Fizkes/AdobeStock.

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