Clear, Credible Communication

Would you choose to build your house on sand or on a rock? Since sand shifts and erodes, it’s clearly the rock that would provide a solid and predictable foundation.

Building on a rock won’t eliminate issues such as wind, rain and storms, but in most cases, your well-built house will withstand the elements.

In much the same way, a relationship based on a foundation of trust and consistency can also withstand and recover from storms of misunderstandings, disagreements and confusion.

Because mind reading is not possible, we need to rely on and learn how to communicate clearly and concisely with words and actions that are congruent and devoid of discrepancies or conflicting messages.

Also critical to a clear message that gains trust is the alignment of words, non-verbal cues and actions. Said another way — Do what you say! Trust, respect and credibility are earned by consistent congruence between words and actions over time.

All too often, however, what you communicate to someone is not necessarily what they “hear.” While you may know what you meant, the other person may have understood something different. It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to verify that a listener received your intended meaning. And, the best way to do that? Ask the listener to restate what they understood in their own words.

Sad to say, most of us do not confirm our understanding of messages. Rather, we often tend to assume shared meanings of words and an approximation of the information conveyed.

Understanding is the purpose of communication! And so, the speaker and listener should mutually engage to reach common ground as a basis for discussion. Agreement is not required, but acknowledgment of another’s perspective is.

A little negotiating may be needed in order for each person to be clear about the essence of the issue or the topic, the objective facts, or even the purpose of the talk. The main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing — have only one conversation at a time. Stay focused and on track. An attitude of openness, good will and a desire to learn is needed for successful communication.

Tips for rock-solid communication

  1. Talk about one issue at a time.
  2. Be clear about the specific outcome you seek.
  3. As a listener, paraphrase the speaker’s message.
  4. As a speaker, ask what meaning has been understood.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  6. When things don’t add up, clarify.
  7. Notice whether non-verbal cues match words.
  8. Be present; give your complete attention.
  9. Do not react; think before you respond.
  10. Be honest. Be authentic. Be yourself.

A sign on an office door in a neighborhood church reads,

For anyone who has children and doesn’t know it, there is a childcare center on the first floor.

You see the problem? Even though this sign is kind of funny, the message is not clear and does not inspire confidence.

As a speaker, be clear about your meaning. Then, stand in the listener’s shoes to imagine how your message will be received.

Build your relationships on a solid foundation of clear, credible communication that will earn trust — a priceless commodity.

Introversion Comes Out Of The Closet

Since author Susan Cain published her groundbreaking book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” there has been an abundance of information about introverts and introversion. What it means. How it is different from extroversion. And, lists of many famous people who are known to be introverted.

One thing that has emerged — something I had not really thought about before — is the long-standing negative connotation of the word “introvert.” I think about the great number of people who carried the “stigma” of that label and how important it is for all of us to shift that perception.

I decided to do a bit of research about what it means to be introverted and to dispel the all-too-frequent misunderstandings about introverts. By the way, some of the famous introverts include Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Adele, and Salvador Dali. Clearly achievement is not necessarily related to personality and/or temperament. So, here are a few thoughts.

  • One of the most common misconceptions is that shyness and introversion are the same thing. According to Cain, shyness is the fear of negative judgment and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. Even an extrovert can be shy.
  • The classic distinction between introverts and extroverts is that introverts recharge their batteries by being alone, while extroverts recharge them in company — often, a lot of company. Many introverts have great social skills, but they still feel depleted by too much socializing.
  • Quiet, thoughtful and occasionally skeptical people, introverts can appear to not like people. However, most introverts can be quite social. They are often quietly content when alone and value calmness, serenity and enjoy being with people in smaller doses than do extroverts.
  • Introverts really do like to talk, but prefer to think before speaking and to listen closely to what is being said before contributing. If too many people are present, introverts will sometimes have a hard time entering the conversation and will decide to remain silent. This sometimes happens to a friend of mine at professional meetings. To be “heard” she will often write a report about her thoughts and suggestions after the meeting and distribute it to participants.
  • Quietness does not equal stupidity, just as loudness does not equal intelligence. If folks really pay attention, they would realize that introverts often have a great deal of useful knowledge and information to contribute.
  • Although introverts can work in groups, they often do their best work alone. While they will sometimes shut down in larger groups of people when they feel their voice isn’t being heard, introverts do excel in small group situations.
  • Introversion is not an affliction or something that can be “cured.” It is an inborn deeply embedded personality temperament, mostly determined by genetics.
  • Introverts are thought to be poor public speakers; however, while some may not like speaking in large group settings, many introverts are naturally gifted speakers. They also generally spend more time preparing for speeches and presentations rather than “flying by the seat of their pants.”
  • Although not necessarily comfortable in crowded spaces, introverts love experiencing new places, people, and things.
  • Most often introverts function on a much more even keel than extroverts and are able to acknowledge multiple perspectives objectively, even during times of stress.
  • Because they are good listeners and don’t complete with extroverts, introverts can be quiet but confident leaders.
  • And for those who might think that extroverts are happier than introverts, personality type does not pre-dispose you to be either happy or unhappy.

The good news is that now, introversion is “out of the closet.” Business leaders, educators, scientists, and others are, indeed, rethinking the workplace environment, the classroom, how we brainstorm, and how include quiet children, to name just a few shifts in the changing landscape. No matter how quiet or reserved introverts might be, their voices are now more understood, acknowledged and clear.