When you don’t trust your own communication skills it can impact your ability to communicate effectively because you are tentative and hesitant, or worse, withdrawn and unwilling to risk communicating.
In essence, you are afraid to upset the apple cart for fear you can’t put it back together again… kind of like all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…
When you trust your ability to communicate you are not afraid to mess things up because you are confident you will figure out a way to have it turn out well.
In my experience, there are two main misconceptions about communication that inhibit the ability to trust yourself and really go for it.
The first is the belief that communication is a 50-50 proposition. In other words, you think that the person you are communicating with is 50% responsible for how it turns out. That belief leaves you at the mercy of the other person, hoping they heard you correctly and understood what you meant.
I recommend approaching communication as if you are 100% responsible for how effective your communication is. This approach enables you to be in the driver seat and work toward the result you want. In other words if your communication didn’t produce the result you wanted, you don’t have to blame anyone. All there is to do is find a different way of communicating that works. Get curious as to where your communication failed, how could you say it differently? Every miscommunication becomes an opportunity to develop more mastery in communication.
The second misconception you might have is that getting a negative reaction to your communication or “upsetting the apple cart” is to be avoided at all costs. Look, upsets happen. People misinterpret information all the time. They often don’t give the communicator the benefit of the doubt; they assume a maliciousness that wasn’t intended. There are myriad ways that communication can go awry.
Accept that other people’s upsets are inevitable and perfection is unlikely. Instead, develop your communication ability so that you can handle upsets when they occur. How, you ask? Here are a few suggestions:
- Recognize it’s not personal, people get upset
- Be understanding, don’t react to their reaction
- Deal with the facts, what actually happened?
- Apologize for the confusion/misinterpretation (Be 100% responsible)
- Give more of the “back story” of the communication
- Ask, how could you have communicated better?
Most importantly, keep being open to developing your communication ability and accept yourself as a work in progress.
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