Communication is a Two-way Street

There was this time I used to really misunderstand a colleague and a manager I used to work with. Our HQ was in another country therefore most of our communication would be through email, Skype, and sometimes through cell phone.

Basically he would write something to me through email, and it would sound somehow displeasing when I read it. And I remember in the beginning I used to ask myself, “Was he stressed out when he wrote this?” And if not, then I must really suck at this job. And during this time I was just new and we have not met yet in person. Sometimes when you get to see a person, you can then be able to make such an assumption about a person; at this point I couldn’t do it.

One day it happened again, after I read his email, I guess he noticed about it that I really misunderstood him, so he decided to Skype me. To my surprise when I spoke with him through Skype call, the way he explained his requirements was so much different than the way he sounded through emails. He was much more warm, and charming, and relaxed. He was more positive and approachable. And I remember making a joke about it later on after we met several times in person and became somehow friends, and he was really surprised about it. I told him in the beginning his emails always gave me the impression that he was displeased with my work, and also he sounded as if he was stressed out all the time, and he said, “Oh, wow, I didn’t know that.” But he was also glad that I told him what I felt, and we agreed in case I misunderstood his emails again, maybe I should Skype or call him.

Some people communicate very well verbally and some people non-verbally.  

An example would be this another manager I used to work with. She was very good in writing and her job as a whole, but she was not very good in verbal communication because she stuttered a lot when she spoke; she had some kind of speech impediment. What I liked about her was that her speech impediment weakness didn’t stop her performing well at work. Truly, she was one of the best in the Company. And many of colleagues knew, if we wanted to get more input from her, we definitely had to communicate with her through emails, or text-messaging her, or chat through Skype, and so on.

Myself for instance; I like to communicate with the simplest language that the person I am communicating with can understand. I like to be direct and always do my best to focus on my points. When I have so much to say or have a lot of information to give, I usually do not like to talk through phones. It’s best for me if I communicate with you through emails, or may be just meet in person. And if it has to do with work or business, I certainly prefer to communicate through emails so that I can keep a record of our conversation. The only problem with this is that, whatever we write through emails or texts can be used against us; therefore, I usually make sure my contents are safe and related to the message and the person I am are sending to. If it is really confidential and sensitive, definitely it’s best for me to speak with the person, face to face.

Sometimes we need to use various means of communication, because people have several ways to being reached, and one of the ways might work best for them.

Let’s say there were two mothers; each one had a young daughter who was lazy and not interested when it comes to doing her laundry and cleaning her bedroom. One day, both mothers got tired of the way their daughters have been ignoring keeping their bedrooms clean and their clothes together. And the first mother said to her daughter; “I am really sick and tired of your bedroom being messy all the time! Didn’t I tell you to put your dirty clothes in a hamper every day, and do your laundry and clean your bedroom every week? Go right now and do it, or else you will be grounded for two weeks!” But for the second mother, she was a little bit different, and so she said to her daughter; “Sweetie; do you know that whatever I am telling you is for your own good…right? I think your bedroom and your clothes are begging for a cleaning upgrade. Sweetie, you are too cute to have a messy bedroom and a hamper full of dirty clothes. And we have already discussed about you start being responsible to clean your clothes and bedroom every week. How about you start cleaning your bedroom right now and then do your laundry?” Now, from these two women statements; which one do you think will be more effective to help her daughter be responsible to clean her clothes and bedroom every week?

When it comes to communication, make sure you are clear when are communicating with someone, and do it in a non-judgmental and non-adversarial tone.

I totally believe you can sound positive and be able to get your message across even if through difficulty and uncontrollable situations. Again, it is not always about the message, but it’s also about how you deliver and say that message.

We also tend to perceive things different, so in order to be on the same page, it is wise to get clarity and more information before you come to conclusions. Get clarity and ask questions if you did not understand, and this could be vice versa; give people a chance and time to respond.

Let me tell you about this wonderful experience I had sometime ago. We went to this national park to see animals, and the tour guard was able to tell us about the animals we saw, how they behaved and communicated with one another. I mean, it was amazing to know how elephants communicate, or lions, tigers, and so on, and actually see them in person doing it. I mean, it was nice to learn about it in actual experience. Even animals and other living things have their own ways of communicating, so you can see how communication is very important into our lives, whether it be personal, or professional.

It is important to know ahead of time to whom you are communicating, what you want to say, and why.

Or in short and easy way to remember you can use WWW like the one of the website, which stands for Whom, What, and Why.

The way you speak to your Mom is different to the way you speak to your lover, your best friend, or your sibling, your colleague, or your boss, and et cetera. Therefore, when you are communicating you may encounter people with cultural differences, of course gender, age, and even economic biases. Yes, it’s sad to say it, but an economic bias is also something to consider about. Most rich and wealthy people think highly of themselves and their time is their asset, therefore when you communicate with them, urgency is required.

Understand clearly the purpose and intent of your message. Ask yourself what outcome you want to achieve and the impression you want to leave.

Always say what you mean. Too often, what we try to communicate gets lost in translation despite our best intentions. We say one thing, the other person hears or perceives something else, and misunderstandings, frustration, and conflicts follow as a result. When delivering our messages we need to be clear and get exactly to the point. As I mentioned before, myself for instance; I use simple language, examples, and illustrations that are easy to understand to get my points across.

Believe it or not, but your body can also communicate something, so check out your body language.

I usually tell people even two hearts can speak without even saying a word. People who have been in love before they can testify this to be true. There is such a high communication between two lovers or love birds especially when they are so much in love that no words are uttered or spoken, but yet the lovers do understand each other.

Definitely, an eye contact is a must. You inspire trust and confidence when you look a person in the eyes when you speak. Be aware of your body language since it can say as much, or more than your words. A good and an approachable posture can help make even difficult communication flow more smoothly.

And yes, communication is a two-way street.

Even when you are communicating to yourself, it is still a two-way street. When you ask yourself questions, and figured out in your head, and in your mind, and you come up with answers according to your understanding, it is still a two-way street.

When you are praying to God, you are also communicating with Him. Even when you don’t see God, but you believe He is there, He can hear your prayers. Most of the time, we expect God to answers our prayers. Though each one of us has our way we understand how to receive our answers from God, but it is different with each individual according to our level of understanding.

When it comes to communication, after you have said what you have to say, stop, listen, and look for feedback and clues of understanding. While the person is responding avoid the urge to cut them off or listen only for the end of the statement or sentence. Respectfully give them your full attention. When they are finished, to ensure that your message has been clearly and correctly understood, ask questions and encourage discussion.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share, comment, and like. I would like to hear from you.

To your success,

Helen Majaga


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