Communication – it’s not about talking

by on 08 December 2014 in Members Blog


Guest post by Cheryl Alderman, She Business North Shore Group Mentor and Founder of Be Ultimate

Conversations are going on around us all of the time. People love to talk!

Different topics, different accents and tones, but lots of talking! In fact, we use an average of 16,000 words per day! I myself am quite accomplished at talking, as those who know me, and ALL of my school teachers, would readily attest to.

We speak in different languages, dialects and jargon, but regardless of the format, sooner or later we find ourselves in the position of being misunderstood or misinterpreted. We might say something that seems totally clear to us, but the person we are talking to takes offense or takes it out of context. Perhaps we make a harmless comment, and the next minute find ourselves in hot water up to our necks! We give an instruction that is so straightforward, but no one else seems to follow.

Communication is not about talking. It’s about being heard and understood.

The majority of arguments and disputes are actually caused by miscommunication, or lack of understanding. You can repeat yourself again and again but if no one is HEARING you, you are wasting your time. You can argue until you are blue in the face, but if the message isn’t clear to the receiver, it won’t get through.

The key is realising that you don’t think in the same way as everyone else!

Sure we have lots in common, but the way we think, feel and form belief systems, values and rules, exists inside our minds only. We create our own version of how the world is/should be. Other people can’t see inside our minds! They don’t know what we are thinking and more than likely it’s not the same as what they are thinking.

We expect them to speak the same language as we do…and often they don’t!

Just ask any married couple. How many times has she said “can you put out the garbage” and he’s heard “you are so lazy, get up and do something.” Or he says “I don’t really like this” at dinner time and she hears “you are a bad cook”. You get the idea!

How can we improve our communication skills and be better at getting our message across? Where do we start?


The next time someone gets upset or angry at you, take a second to think about what you just said, and how else it could have been heard. Reframe it and clarify. Say it a different way and get more specific about your meaning or intention.

Ask yourself how you might have been misinterpreted and correct it immediately. If in doubt, ask them to pause and tell you what they think you meant. This then gives you the opportunity to nip any miscommunication in the bud before it gets escalated into a confrontation or argument.

Shift your perception.

Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would have felt if someone had made that comment to you. It may sound quite different from their end.

If you are speaking from a practical point of view you may not have even considered the emotional impact. Allow for the possibility that they may be thinking from an emotional perspective and aren’t hearing the practicalities, or vice versa. Adjust your statements accordingly and watch the conversation take a positive turn.

Be flexible in your listening too.

There are two sides to every coin, many views from the look out and thousands of variations of a single theme. Keep that thought in your head as you move into your next conversation. Notice how flexibility and awareness can instantly improve the way you connect and relate to others. Practise hearing what others are saying to you, instead of taking their comments at face value. Read between the lines, step into their world and evaluate what’s really being said.

Be HEARD and UNDERSTOOD and offer the same in return.

These simple steps can make a marked difference to how you connect and relate with others around you. They will impact how you listen and how they respond. You can dramatically improve your communication skills and begin to build better, stronger relationships with those around you.