I spent part of my past year teaching children how to understand what they read. (I tell you, that in itself is a skill, but that’s not today’s topic of discussion). One of the lessons that I learned in that period, is that what humans hear, and what they understand, can be 2 entirely different concepts (I legit started to see it in conversation and interaction around me).
If you have ever sat in one of my Personal Branding sessions on Communication, then, we’d have gone through the basics:
- How communication goes beyond what you say
- How your choice of words can convey an entirely different meaning
- How to choose your words to reflect your thoughts and respect the environment so you don’t get misunderstood
- How to use body language to reinforce what you are saying (or not saying)
…and a whole lot of other stuff. But that’s not what this is about. (If you’re interested in that sort of information, let’s talk about it).
Today, I want us to take a quick look at COMPREHENSION. You see, you can be doing all the right things to communicate your point, but the person is not getting your point for one of several reasons:
- They don’t understand you because of their own perception (for more about this, take a look
- Their mindset is clouded, because their experiences have not brought them to the point where what you are sharing with them is a possibility in their mind. (Your point just ends up going over their heads).
- They already have a firm opinion in mind that they really want to pass across or hold tight to.
- They do not want to understand you (probably a bit of fear and/or stubbornness at play here)
- I don’t know (lol. You could tell me in the comment section)
Lol. The bottom line is, sometimes, it’s not enough to try to pass your point across as succinctly as possible, because until they understand it, COMMUNICATION has NOT happened. Yup! Take a look at this scenario: you are running late for your test, and you need to send a text message to your professor in advance, so that he’ll let you into the class when you eventually arrive in the class, even though you’d be late and he is not supposed to. Here’s the deal: that text you sent has not accomplished the goal (of getting you permission or excuse to be late) until it is delivered AND read (preferably acknowledged too). Do you see?
Communication goes way beyond flinging information at people and walking away: you’d often have to deliver your message appropriately, ensure that they understand your point, and then get feedback (this is practically why I enjoy reading your comments and questions in the comment section and in my e-mail. It helps me know where to go next, how to build on what we have and deliver better value, and make us better people). It’s a two-way thing that doesn’t end with making your point, but with implementing the action plan that you generated to move forward from where you are.
Whether you are building a relationship, enjoying a friendship, passing information to your boss, or relating with your child, communicating effectively is pivotal, and the results are best seen when you approach it with an aim to achieve comprehension.
(For more on effective methods of comprehension, I’VE GOT YOU)