Did you get my message?

Working in public relations has shown me that message delivery is essential. Regardless of your profession, how you deliver your message shows how effective you are as a communicator.

The last couple of weeks were especially interesting, with my brother moving into a new place and mum going into hysterics every once over a few days. Why hysterics? Because, my little brother, sweet as he is, still thinks he is a little boy and at the moment, can't really see that what he is telling mum sends her into hysterics. Put that togethe with mum's over anxious-ness and paranoia = me driven insane.

In this instance, I learn that I need to help my brother learn how to hone his communication skills. You can't just say anything, just because. You have to be aware of what you are saying, who you are talking with and how you are saying it. In a few weeks, he'll be starting a new job and its crucial that he learns how to improve his communcation skills. The room for error is very small in the workplace. I also learned that we need to keep mum on an even keel - yes, she is concerned about us kids and how we are helping our brother. What we now need to do is to reassure and show her that things are under control.

Another example that I'm learning from is from my own behaviour. In my last relationship, I didn't realize that I was acting like an infatuated kid. That said, I don't really know what I really did or how I did it as not many people are willing to share what they saw of my bahaviour. Sharing such details with friends (or me) is important - I like telling them about how the guy was or behaved and I would have appreciated feedback on my behavior too. After it all ended, I heard some feedback but seriously, I could have handled things better if I had some insight on the outset. Brushing things aside and what I had to say hurt me. I guess I behaved the way I did because I thought no one cared or bothered. Yea, no one likes being told that they are idiots but things will sink in after a while, trust me.

The key to effective communication though, is thinking things through. How you say it can make all the difference in demonstrating how you handle a situation. If my brother had said that things are going well with the move in the first place and that you don't have to wory much, mum, things would've gone much smoother. If friends had asked if I had any reservations about the ex and how I wanted to handle things, I would have been able to talk things out instead of letting things fester inside. But then again, who can predict the outcome of such things?

Here are a few BW tips to ponder through the next time you have the urge to blurt :

  1. What are you trying to tell the person? Do you want their feedback or insight on what to do next? Frame your query in the clearest manner possible.
  2. How do you want them to help you? Again, ask for help if you need it. It's never wrong or bad to say you don't know how to handle things. There is no loss of power if you don't know how to do things - you will only be an idiot if you act like one.
  3. Know your audience. Face it, we don't talk to our mum the way we speak to friends or co-workers, so change your message accordingly.
  4. Say it calmly. And by calm, I don't mean nonchalant. Convey your message in a manner that shows that you've put some thought behind it so that you can gain better feedback.
  5. Think it through. Of course there are several scenarios of how a situation will pan out. It's best to figure most of it out before you say anything. This helps you tackle the tough questions as and when they come up so you be completely caught off guard.
  6. No hysterics. No matter how good or bad the news is, wait for it all to come out before you go mad.
  7. Be direct and conscise. Be as straightforward as you can. Your task is to convey your message so that it is understood immediately with little room for misunderstanding.
At the end of the day, saying something right will often save you a lot of trouble. Messages conveyed well (regardless of whether it is good news or not) are more appreciated if they can be understood. So put on your thinking caps and go forth and communicate!

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Mike said...

...but you know that true friends don't care how you phrase it, how you communicate it..just say it! We'll always be here to support you!

Bitchy Witchy said...

That's true but then again, we have to beware of egos and what not, right?

Kole Mogel said...

Ahh, and the challenge of communicating is that we assume far to many things of friends, family, and coworkers and there in lies the issue. Great list of tips Selena. May I suggest for your brother, John Maxwell's "Everyone communicates, few connect." For effective communication to take place a level of trust and common ground must be established. For feedback from friends, ask, and don't let them BS you, that doesn't do anyone any good!

Bitchy Witchy said...

That's a great suggestion, Kole! I will go look for the book and add that to the reading list :o) And you are right - trust and common ground have to be established. These days, people don't think before they speak. And that is a scary thing.

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P


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