The Way You Communicate

By Lauren Carter

I hope you’ve been having a lovely week so far. Today I want to share with you why you need to start paying attention to the way you communicate. Now, if you already do this, that’s great and these tips might serve as a refresher! But, if not, then don’t worry – it’s super easy to get started 😊

Why you need to pay attention to the way you communicate

The biggest mistake I see people make when communicating is simply not being aware of the effect their communication choices can have. If you’ve ever learned a second language my friend, I’m sure you’ll know what I’m talking about. I speak Mandarin pretty well, but it’s definitely not fluent. I can’t even count the times I’ve had conversations where I’ve been smiling, nodding my head, and pretending I’ve understood what someone has said when in reality I’m frantically trying to keep up with the conversation and hoping they don’t ask me a question!

These situations happened because of one simple factor: the person I was speaking to didn’t consider my needs or language ability. This is a simple mistake, but it can have massive implications. The purpose of communicating, whether verbally or in writing, is to convey a message to someone. If you don’t communicate in a way that’s aligned with your audience’s needs, then your audience won’t understand you or your message, which basically defeats the purpose of communicating.

On the other hand, when you pay attention to the way you communicate, three really cool things happen:

  1. Your audience actually understands you and what you’re informing them about
  2. Your audience feels safe and supported because they can see that you’ve got their best interests at heart
  3. You have better relationships with people because you limit miscommunications that turn into frustrations and resentment

How to communicate more effectively

“So, how do you communicate more effectively Lauren?” I hear you say. Well, my friend, it’s simple! Here are the top 3 things you can do right now to improve your communication:

  • Choose your words carefully
  • Consider sentence length and type
  • Use other aids to help

A really simple yet effective thing to do is to think about the words you use and make a conscious effort to police your own word choices. If you’re ever in doubt about whether a word is “hard” or not, ask yourself this: how would a child say it? Would a child say she wants to help someone or assist them? Would she say she wants chocolate right now or right at this present moment? Try and substitute harder words with easier ones as much as possible.

Sometimes there is actually no easier version of the word. So, what can you do? Well, you can explain the concept. For example, an orphan is a child who doesn’t have parents. A parent is a mum or a dad. Don’t worry if this sounds hard – you’ll get better with practice.

You should also think about the sentence length and type. I won’t go into too much linguistic nerdery here, but there’s two basic sentence types: simple sentences and complex sentences. A simple sentence expresses one idea, while a complex sentence expresses more than one. This is a simple sentence. This is not a simple sentence because it has more than one idea and just keeps going on and on and on. It depends on your audience but try to use shorter sentences when you can. Remember: the lower someone’s English literacy, the more you should use simple sentences.

And finally, don’t be afraid to use other resources to support you. This could be pictures, body language, or physical objects. Be creative! In fact, your own voice is the perfect resource! With practice, you can easily change your talking speed, tone, and volume to accommodate your audience’s needs. I could go on and on about how important talking speed is! If you’ve ever learned a second language, I’m sure you know what I mean. But that’s a topic for another day.

This Week’s Challenge

So my friend, my challenge for you this week is to start becoming aware of the way you communicate. What words am I using? Is there an easier way to say this? Can I slow down without being condescending?

I encourage you to really connect with your audience. Step into their shoes and ask yourself “if I was in their situation, what would make me feel safe and supported?”. Then do those things.

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