I’d love to know how many times I’ve said that one phrase. So true because it’s such a simple message. Yet something that can be so challenging to do!

Communication can lead to the most straightforward solution to really pressing situations. Personally, socially, in our families, at work or in the business world, communication plays a role. It helps us understand and to be understood.

As soon as you get two or more people together talking, on the phone, on a video call – or you’re writing an email or letter – we’re communicating. So the potential for communication challenges is right there. There’s no escaping it. Maybe it shows by saying nothing, talking nervously, oversharing, avoiding eye contact. Or by being loud, overbearing or emotional.

What’s underneath it? Is it because of overthinking? From feeling incompetent? Or feeling so insecure, destabilised and vulnerable, that it’s hard to say what you want, or mean? The voice may quiver a little, or there’s a word stumble, and before you know it, whatever you say is seen as defensive?

Worst of all, you don’t even feel in charge of what’s coming out of your mouth!

If you can’t relate to this happening to you, maybe look at it from the other side. Think of when you’ve wondered why someone you know as confident, competent and ‘in charge’ seems to have stumbled their way through a conversation. Then consider how you were interacting with each other. It takes two, remember?

Clear communication can be scary. Really scary. “What if they don’t like what I say?” “What if things backfire on me?” “What if this destroys our relationship?”

One thing you can be sure of is that poor communication, including communication by omission, is unhealthy. It can lead to an ‘elephant in the room’, and to damaging relationships and teams. It can be more destructive than an internet banking shutdown, or a server outage. To a single person, it can weigh so heavily that it affects their whole life.

Of course no-one wants to hear something they don’t like. Especially when messages or information is delivered poorly, carelessly, insensitively – or without all the facts. So why not take the care needed to communicate well?

  • Know what you want to say and the outcome you anticipate.
  • Aim to be kind, rather than just right.
  • Show mutual respect.
  • Be authentic and honest.
  • Have the courage to be vulnerable.
  • Be assertive, not aggressive or submissive.
  • Be prepared to respond, not react, to comments, responses or feedback.

Effective communication reduces misunderstandings, grapevines, ‘he said/she said’. It builds, or ends, relationships when you let it flow. It allows you to learn and grow, often through getting something wrong. It builds resilience and can chart your direction.

So the message here is clear. Take a risk to communicate authentically. We all rely on information to make decisions – so if we don’t have all the information, how can we make an informed decision? Yes, it may be uncomfortable. It may be very uncomfortable and we may ‘move on’ from a relationship, idea, career path.

People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime”.

Yet ‘uncomfortable’, approached well, can lead to outcomes and change you never thought possible. It’s just like getting fit or doing weight training: ‘there’s no gain without pain!’

Article supplied by Anne Whatley-Dale