Being Understood

There is nothing more important than being understood.  All communication is based on the hope and desire that other people will understand us.  How do we do that?  How do we reach across the gap?  And where do we get stuck?

Mostly we get stuck when we try speak “our” language, and assume others will understand.  I’m sure you’ve experienced both sides of this.

Certainly we know what it’s like when we go to a foreign country.  We snatch little phrases of English out of the air and wonder what else they are saying.  I personally experienced a bunch of that when I worked for Japanese companies.   I would hear “garble, garble, garble Shell-san, garble, garble Balance Sheet” and be bewildered.

Some of the confusing languages aren’t so obvious as foreign tongues.  People speak Legal, Medical, Insurance and Finance.  Oh yes, finance.  With finance it’s one of those things where the language feels especially important and over our heads, doesn’t it?

And the third kind of foreign language has to do with something my friend Sari de la Motte and her team at Forte ( work with.  It’s the non-verbal stuff, when what our bodies are saying isn’t matching the words.  An idea expressed in a  favorite song lyric of mine:  “The picture on the cover doesn’t match the one inside” (from Picture Puzzle, by Kate Wolf).  This encompasses not only voice pattern, but posture and gestures.  It’s part of why we believe or don’t believe someone, isn’t it?  Animals use non-verbal “language” all the time.   Both with others of their same species and across species.  It takes noticing and adapting, doesn’t it?

Recognizing all these languages is very important to being understood.  We find it frustrating when others don’t try to communicate more clearly with us…but how are we doing the same things back?  How can we take our well earned, sophisticated, and often erudite language back to something the person we are talking to can understand?

You want to notice how your language lands, and then adjust it.  Don’t just assume your listeners speak the same language you do; ask.  Look for cues that you aren’t getting through and adjust.

It’s a crucial skill to cultivate in creating both business and personal relationships.

Oh and just so you know, when it comes to you talking with your money, you are going to have to adapt.  Money speaks its own language.  I’m not talking finance here.  I’m talking day-to-day money.  Money will NOT track you down to tell you what’s happening.  It WILL answer your questions, exactly as you ask them.  The good and bad news about money is that it will just give information to you.  It has no opinion, positive or negative, it just reports.  So if you want to have a better understanding of your money, take the information in the form it gives it to you (numbers) and then translate it into a language you understand (proportion, percentage, visuals, color, words).  You two will get along better if you learn to bridge the gap.