What did they hear?

It is not what you say, it is what they hear and what they feel that counts.

When it comes to effective communication, it’s not just about the words we choose to express ourselves, but equally how they are received and interpreted by others. The true power lies in understanding the perspective of our audience and tailoring our message to resonate with them. People have unique backgrounds, experiences, and sensitivities that shape their interpretation of your words. To be a successful communicator, it’s essential to tailor your message to your listener, taking into account their needs, concerns, and the context in which the conversation occurs. This approach minimizes misunderstandings and promotes stronger, more meaningful connections.  Being mindful of their needs, desires, and values, ensures that our words have a meaningful impact and create a genuine connection.

The power of this principle extends beyond verbal communication; it’s equally relevant in written and non-verbal communication. Written messages, emails, and text messages can be interpreted differently by recipients based on their expectations, emotions, and preconceptions. Additionally, non-verbal cues such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions play a vital role in conveying your true intent. To navigate these complexities, one must develop empathy, active listening skills, and a deep understanding of their audience. In doing so, you can ensure that the message you intend to convey aligns with the message they receive, fostering better relationships and more effective communication.

Your Turn

“People will forget what you said.  People will forget what you did.  People will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou

Here are a few journal prompts you can reflect on to explore this quote. Spend time on one or two questions a day until you start to feel comfortable with your communication decision making.

  1. Share a personal experience where the message you intended to convey was misunderstood. What lessons did you learn from it?
  2. Think of a recent conversation where you had to adjust your communication style to better connect with the other person. How did it impact the interaction?
  3. Reflect on a time when someone successfully communicated with you, making you feel heard and understood. What made their communication effective?
  4. Describe a situation where you had to navigate a language barrier or cultural differences to ensure your message was understood. What strategies did you use?
  5. Have you ever sent an email or message that was misconstrued or had unintended consequences? What steps could you have taken to prevent this?
  6. Explore the role of empathy in effective communication. How does considering the emotions and perspective of the other person improve the quality of communication?
  7. Write about a challenging conversation you anticipate having in the future. How can you prepare to ensure that what they hear aligns with your intentions?
  8. Consider non-verbal communication. How does your body language and tone impact the messages you convey to others?
  9. Reflect on the impact of context on communication. How does the setting, timing, and environment affect how a message is received?
  10. Think of a role model or public figure known for their effective communication. What techniques or qualities do they possess that you could incorporate into your own communication style?

5-Minute Cup Filler

Words may flow from your lips, but their true impact is woven in the ears and hearts of those who listen.

BECOME AWARE:  Name one time when what you said is not what they heard. How did this impact you? How could it impact you if you made a different choice?

BE GRATEFUL: Rephrase your observations into the choice you can be grateful for.  What is the “better version of you” you choose instead?

I am grateful for __(insert what you became aware of)___ because it gives me a chance to __(insert what you will do differently)___ .

TAKE ACTION: What is one choice (when you become aware again) you can make to improve the outcome?
Name an additional action you choose to take throughout the day to reinforce.

Jen Weis

The publisher of Morning Cup.