Improvement of my communication skills is a continuous endeavor. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I fall short – way short.
The latter is not intentional. It may be a slip of the tongue, nerves that opened my mouth before my head put on the brakes or a professional tone or inflection that is perceived as arrogant, condescending and pompous.
I’m an avid communications observer, never growing tired of listening and watching humans interact with one another. I can sense how someone is feeling before they speak and therefore, most often, get a keen sense on what kind of person s/he may be – the person behind the social mask they wear day in and day out.
In listening to almost all White House, State Department and U.S. Military Command updates over these past weeks, Jen Psaki has not won my heart. What she has done is remind me of how it sounds to say, “as I said last week” along with a number of other verbal and non-verbal communications that just sound and look plain ugly.
Some can confuse, whether consciously or unconsciously, taking command and the confident delivery of messages with the need to be defensive and appear cold. It is as if holding one’s self so rigid and speaking in a gruff manner will make us smarter or more credible while shielding us from questions they deem unnecessary or putting them at risk for, God forbid, flip-flopping – which humans so often do.
So. Not. So.
That doesn’t paint the picture of a confident leader, quite contraire. It is the image of someone who is inexperienced, fearful and working hard to stay controlled.
I’m now more conscious than ever of how this sounds, whether written or spoken. “As I said” or ‘in my previous message’ or ‘as stated last week’ can be digested in a number of ways. It can put others on the defense. It can make someone feel less than. It can shutdown a communication that might have had to happen because now the other person can’t be bothered.
Whether right or wrong, it happens.
I’m focused on less is more. Before I speak, I am asking myself which words are necessary – and which are not. Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it being communicated in an assertive or aggressive way? What am I putting out there and how will this make that other person feel?
The intent of communication should be to deliver constructive messages, discuss points when needed and resolve issues that may arise. It is intended to gain knowledge and understanding and most importantly, should improve our relationships – not sever them.
I encourage you to join me in thinking before you speak. Take a moment to assess your feelings and attitude before letting the words slip out. Then say what you mean – mean what you say.
By taking control of our communication style, we are empowering ourselves and in turn will grow more confident and at ease when relating to others. When we possess this personal strength, we can communicate in a kind, compassionate yet assertive manner.