How many times have you heard the phrase or some rendition of “communication is key.” Some examples include talking about marriage counseling, parenting tips, a productive work environment, working with human resources, progress in school, or any other place where you need to have clear dialogue.
Road signs have to be crystal clear on what you as the drive need to be doing. Because of the speeds we drive, the Department of Transportation has just seconds to express to the driver what needs to happen, otherwise you could end up going the wrong direction, or even worse, someone could die.
How much more important is this for the Church. Are we as pastors and Christians clear in the message we have to share?
[I actually share a portion of the content below on a previous vlog that you can catch here.]
How To Get Crystal Clear Dialogue
Sometimes, this muddying of dialogue is because we are not saying what we need to be saying, other times it is because we are not good listeners. And even when you have both, sometimes we still fail to have clear dialogue.
Being A Better Listener
A good listener is more than just being quiet and using your ears. A good listener has a quiet mind, asks lots of questions, and does not insinuate anything.
If you are like me, you really are listening to what they have to say, at least until you have identified a problem. It might not be the problem they are communicating, but we (or at least just me) are already coming up with a solution in our head for what we heard. We’ve just missed everything else being said because we were problem solving.
Solution: Just listen.
Even when we hear everything someone says to us, we still miss the point of the conversation. Sometimes this is because they did not actually explain themselves (we will get to that below) and sometimes that is because we assume too much. Maybe someone comes to complain to you and you assume you need to fix it, but honestly all they wanted was to be heard.
Solution: Ask questions.
Too Much Transference
Transference is when we substitute emotions and cues from the person we are talking with instead to someone we have deep pain or wounds. I see this in counseling when I challenge sometime and they stop hearing me and instead hear their abusive father.
Solution: Remember who you are talking to.
Being A Better Communicator
The other side of a conversation is that we need to actually say what we intend to say. It’s hard to be a good listener if we are not actually saying what needs to be said.
Rabbit Trails In Storytelling
I’ve heard many times that we need to be good storytellers. While I do not disagree that a story that connects the audience emotionally is a bad thing, too many times I see this instead translated as “just talk more.” Further, our individual conversations start on topic, but we go onto too many rabbit trails and get lost in the weeds of the message.
Solution: Be concise.
When we talk with other people, we are communicating more than just words. There is a myth out there that verbal communication only accounts for 7% of what we say. We focus so much on what we say that we forget about how we are going to say it.
Solution: Make sure you are speaking rationally.
Context Is Important
Think about the phrase “Why are you doing that?” and how you would interpret that statement. When you read it, where did you put the emphasis for the statement?
“Why are you DOING THAT?” versus “Why are YOU doing that?”
One comes off as blaming while the other is simply asking if you could have found a volunteer or different person to achieve the task. At this point, we are beginning to include several of the points above that could include tone, transference, and not being concise. In times where we have important words to say, we need to stop and plan our words carefully.
When I proposed to my wife, I didn’t wing it. The stage was set. The romance in the air. And I thought over and over about what I was going to say.
Solution: Be fully prepared.
What other tips would you suggest to create crystal clear dialogue?