I recently read that the English language has over 600 words that have 10 different meanings. No wonder our messages are misinterpreted!
To ensure that everyone—from your toddler to the guy who works in the stockroom—understands important messages and directions, here is a five-step process to be sure your messages are interpreted correctly.
5 Steps to Convey an Important Message
- Get their attention. Be sure your listener isn’t distracted by something else. For a toddler, this might be a toy or TV; for a teenager, music; for an employee a computer screen. Be sure you “have their eyeballs.”
- Repeat yourself. Remember the old adage: “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.” But don’t just say the same thing over and over, use different words to convey the directive.
- Get beyond the words. Be sure your tone of voice, facial expression and body language are in synch with the message you’re trying to convey.
- Paraphrase your comments. Take the responsibility for miscommunication upon yourself with a comment like: “I’m not sure I said that clearly, here is what you should do…”
- Ask them, “What are you going to do?” Rather than asking, “Do you understand?” (To which most of us will respond, “Yes.”) Ask them to tell you what they will do as a result of your conversation.