In Part Two, we saw that one aspect of taking responsibility for effective communication was the realization that most people – in not focusing on understanding what you or I meant to say – will simply interpret our words based on their own belief systems. And, that despite this, it’s still up to us to be sure the correct message gets across. I quoted a mentor who told me, “Burg, when the shooter misses the target, it’s not the target’s fault.”
True. However, reader and good friend Heather O’Sullivan brings up an excellent point when she asks:
“I am big on taking responsibility, but we cannot
control the mindset of the listener, can we?”
Heather is absolutely right. It is also their responsibility to listen with an eye (well, I guess that would be an ear) 🙂 toward understanding. Yet, they often won’t. However, before leaving it at that, let’s see what more we can do. I suggest that, if we want to put the odds that we’ll be correctly understood ever more in our favor, then we need to go even a step further.
One very effective idea is to, tactfully and kindly, clarify intent (lest coming across as either patronizing or overbearing – neither of which results in better comprehension). 🙂 This can be accomplished by asking a question or two that ensures he or she understood your words as you intended them.
Depending upon the situation, this is not always easy, convenient or realistic. So, when it comes right down to it, we do the best we can within the context provided. Do this consistently and you’ll “hit the target” much more often than otherwise.
And, summing up Heather’s terrific point, when it comes right down to it, we still cannot control what they are going to consciously or unconsciously choose to hear. As another of my early mentors, Bill Gove used to say, “you are responsible to people – not for people.
But, there is one more part of this equation which is just important as what we have been discussing over the last few days. And we’ll look at that in the next article.