Friday, August 27, 2010


“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
~ Anthony Robbins

Okay, I’m still on a communication kick. After training the wonderful folks at the Tyson Lab in Wilkesboro, NC, about effective communication, my conviction is renewed about the importance of hearing what others say to us. And I don’t mean just physical hearing, but really getting what they are speaking about and not assuming. When we assume we know what others are saying to us, communication can really break down.

Take Barney for instance. Barney is our radar detector.

Now before I go any further let me explain why we have one of those. Neal rarely even reaches the speed limit when he drives, but if the cogs and wheels start turning in his mind and he is mentally working out a problem or idea, that sometimes translates as pressure through the foot on the pedal. Neal decided that if he had something sound an alarm, he’d back off and turn off the cogs and wheels.

Back to Barney.

All the way to and from NC he’d sound off. We’d watch for a police care, but after a mile or so down the road, nothing. Zip. Nada. However, when we passed the state troopers in plain sight in the median, (which wasn’t a problem for us since Neal was going ten miles under the speed limit trying to get better gas mileage) not a peep was heard from Barney.

We called and found that Barney was only sounding off when he got signals from cell towers. He obviously didn’t have the state troopers band wave. So, while we thought he was alerting us about police with radars every ten miles or so, he was actually telling us there were cell towers.

I see this message mix-up often while trying to help improve communication. The reason for the misinterpretation is because we don’t just hear words, but we hear the tone of voice and we see the facial expression. This often causes a misunderstanding. I have a quick fix for this. Neal and I have been practicing it for many years and I can attests that this works.

This is what you do—when someone says something that rubs you the wrong way and makes you want to retort rather than respond, say,

“This is what I’m hearing you say, __________________. Is that what you are saying?”

Usually, the other person will say, “No, not at all.” Then they will go on to clarify.

This week, give it a try. It might straighten out the mixed signals and save some hurt feelings.

Take it from Barney. Because of his tendency to send the wrong signal, he was repacked in his box and returned to Wal – Mart!


Linda Glaz said...

Oh, how often feelings are hurt and arguments prevail when a word that's intended for good sounds sarcastic or is misunderstood. Thanks for the post.

Kim Kaberle said...

I have tried this before with my husband. I was suprised when he responded, "that's not what I meant at all." Glad I didn't have to return my husband!!