We live in a world full of confusion. I am never surprised when things get mixed up in any given situation. In fact, I am more surprised when something is actually clear and understandable. Every day I read something or hear something that raises a question in my mind as to what was trying to be communicated.
When I have written a letter, a memo or the overview of a project, I read it one last time before sending it out, in order to be certain that I understand what is being communicated. I even have someone who reads these Tips before they go out every week to see if they understand clearly what I have written. Often, having another point of view helps me to see something that I may have omitted or overlooked.
My friend, Andy Stanley, was a journalism major at Georgia State University. He shared with me how one particular class helped him learn to communicate clearly. It seems that every time Andy wrote a paper, the teacher would ask Andy what he was trying to say. Andy would then proceed to explain to the professor exactly what he meant and what he was trying to communicate. Then the professor would lean forward in his chair and say, “Quick! Go write down on paper exactly what you just said to me! I understood everything you said!” Andy told me he would get caught up in trying to write something that sounded eloquent, but that it did not communicate clearly. He said that professor’s methodology helped him learn to communicate more effectively than any other single experience in his life.
Many of you know that Andy Stanley is the Senior Pastor of North Point Community Church, one of the largest churches in America. If you have ever heard him speak, you know that he is an excellent communicator for one reason…he is clear! We could all do better in this category.
I have also learned when teaching to often ask questions in order to make sure the blame for any miscommunication is aimed at me and not at another person. After I teach something to someone, I usually ask them, “Would you please explain back to me what you think I said so that I know that I was clear?” In other words, I put the burden of clarity on myself to be certain they understood correctly what I was trying to communicate.
When someone says something important to you it is also a good idea for you to ask them, “May I please repeat back to you what I think you said in order for me to be sure that I understood you correctly?” You see, in both cases, the burden is on you to be clear about what is being said.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for all that.” And you may be right. But, I have a question for you. If you do not have time to be careful that things are done correctly and communicated clearly the first time, do you have time to do everything over again? You see, in the long run, you will spend twice as much time and money correcting your mistakes and doing something over and over again that you could have done just once, if you had taken the time to be sure you were clear in the first place. You could save yourself a lot of time and headaches! Believe me, I have paid dearly in printing costs alone for products that were produced that were nor clear or full of mistakes. It has been painful for me to throw thousands of dollars of printing into the dumpster simply because I did not take the time to be careful and clear! But not any more!
This Tip is valuable for the well being of any business endeavor or the success of any personal relationship. Taking the time to be clear is one of the greatest skills anyone can develop. I trust you will work on it this week!
Tip: Learn to be clear!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm