Have you ever been at a loss for words? Had trouble clearly expressing what you are thinking? At best, it takes you several attempts to state your case clearly before you are finally understood.
Communication is not the same as talking or saying whatever comes to your mind. Rather, good communication is an art; to clearly convey your intended message requires forethought and consideration.
Merriam-Webster gives one definition of communication as, “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior.” In other words, in order to achieve a clear exchange of thoughts or information, we must carefully choose language and behaviors that clearly convey the message we intend to send.
Sound complicated? Well, honestly, it does require more consideration than we are used to giving it.
There are no guarantees that clear communication will be achieved, but following are three principle pillars of good communication. These are good tools to get you on the road to delivering your thoughts clearly. Here are three principle pillars of good communication.
Word choice – First, think to yourself what you want to say, then choose words that say exactly what you mean. Think of the difference between saying “That looks nice” vs “That looks beautiful.” These two adjectives communicate different messages although closely related in meaning. Think about whether or not you mean to convey “nice” or “beautiful,” then say exactly what you mean.
Volume – Speaking loudly or with intensity can intimidate the listener, even if you do not intend to. As a rule of thumb, don’t speak any louder than is necessary to be heard.
Tone – Tone is the inflection you use to indicate mood or emotion. Often times, when not feeling well, we communicate our disposition regardless of efforts to hide behind word choices. For example, if you are exhausted and hungry, and need to communicate homework assignments to a classroom of students, you will be more likely come across with angry tones in your voice, even though you aren’t feeling angry. Be aware of tone when trying to communicate.
Finally, you must use all three principles of word choice, volume and tone equally in order to deliver your message accurately; they must all three be communicating the same message at the same time. The forces must be aligned! If your tone and volume are off (communicating a different message) then it will not matter what your word choice is, your tone and volume will override your word choice and you will end up communicating something that you didn’t mean at all. Therefore, if you want to master saying what you mean and meaning what you say, you must take into account your word choice, volume and tone before you open your mouth!