The Happiness Connection  

Speak my language

One of the greatest skills you can ever learn is the art of communication.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have the world’s biggest vocabulary. Nor does it mean you use the perfect words on every occasion.

Your words count for little if the person you’re speaking with doesn’t understand them.

Although there are generally agreed upon meanings for words, how often have you heard someone misuse vocabulary, or discover there are regional differences between expressions?

Clear communication requires an agreement in meaning between both the speaker and the listener. When these don’t mesh, miscommunication results.

My brother and I tend to communicate very differently. He’ll choose one or two accurate words from his extensive vocabulary, while I abandon brevity in favour of choosing words, I hope will convey my meaning easily.

I’ll use a dozen words to say what he says in one.

There are pitfalls to both these approaches.

With the accurate vocabulary approach, you’re relying on the other person knowing the word you’re using and assigning the same or similar meaning to it. There’s little room for error.

If you rely on the multiple-word approach, it’s important to realize that the more words you use, the more chance there is for misunderstanding.

Many listeners assume they know what you’re going to say, before you’re even finished speaking.

There’s almost a need for some level of telepathy if you want your words to be interpreted accurately. Perhaps, the better you know a person, the more chance there is of them understanding what you’re trying to say.

Whether you’re at work, at home, or in a social setting, miscommunication can cause problems. Being able to understand what another person is trying to say, is vital if you want to develop strong relationships.

Research shows that the best indicator of whether a marriage will be successful or not, is by seeing how well a couple communicates about problems during the six months leading up to their marriage.

I’m sure this applies to common-law coupling as well as legal nuptials.

The good news is that communication skills can be improved.

When you speak, be careful about using uncommon, or unfamiliar words.

If your goal is to flummox the other person, that approach might serve you well. But if you want them to understand what you’re sharing with them, try using every-day words and avoiding jargon.

As a listener, be willing to ask for clarification any time you you’re unclear about the message the speaker is trying to share.

Many people are hesitant to do this, especially if they’re talking with someone who relies on a large vocabulary of accurate words. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your understanding.

Big words are not necessarily a sign of intelligence.

Improve your understanding by looking for subtle, unspoken clues that may help you interpret the words you’re hearing the way the speaker intends you to.

  • Are they being facetious?
  • Is this something the speaker is feeling angry about?
  • Is there something else going on that might affect their words, such as lack of sleep, stress, or trauma?
  • Any of these things may also affect how the listener deciphers the words they hear.
  • How often have your negative emotions been triggered during a conversation?

It happened to me just yesterday. I was trying to arrange for my mom’s mail to be forwarded to her new home. You’d think I was dealing with Fort Knox rather than Canada Post.

It was difficult for me to stay calm, especially as I felt the person I was dealing with was being dismissive of my situation.

I doubt she even paused to think about why I was so annoyed, but that too could be a misinterpretation on my part.

Before allowing negative emotions to take control, breathe, and then consider if there are any alternative ways of interpreting what you heard.

Give the other person the benefit of the doubt, before jumping to any conclusions. Ask questions to ascertain the message the speaker was trying to convey, rather than assuming you know and letting your emotions get the better of you.

If you feel strongly triggered, step away for a few minutes. Resume the conversation when you feel calmer.

On my way home yesterday, to get additional documentation, I had to remind myself that this woman didn’t make the regulations, she was just carrying out what her company expected her to do.

She might have sparked my feelings, but she didn’t deserve to be the target of my annoyance.

Getting triggered by a family member can easily lead to an argument about who said what. Fighting about this is pointless. It’s about the meaning behind the words rather than the words themselves that needs to be clarified.

If someone accuses you of saying something you don’t think you said, choose not to engage.

Instead, be willing to admit that the words you used might have been poorly chosen, or clumsy, and try again to explain your thoughts.

Although communication often begins with words, it’s about so much more.

Rather than assuming you know all there is to know about the subject, stop to examine your style of communication and how you could become a clearer speaker and more accurate listener.

This is the best way to feel like you and the other people in your life are speaking the same language.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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