When you’re in a rush but stuck in conversation it becomes blatantly apparent how much people decorate stories with flowery detail. “JUST GET TO THE POINT, I NEED TO GO!” you think in your head as the lower half of your body turns to leave as your head nods, hoping this gets the point across.
Generally, we behave fairly unselfishly for the sake of polite conversation. Being efficient isn’t always the best technique for nurturing friendship or having interesting conversation. After all, writers capture your imagination by painting the scene, as do the best directors and painters. The Godfather may not have been quite so epic if it had lasted 15 minutes. Although despite its hefty 2hr 58min run time, the detail is there to serve the story not the writers ego.
Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. – Plato
We do a lot of things inefficiently and communication is certainly high up on the list. We often use banal conversational tools like “How crazy is the weather today?” and “How are you?” as stepping stones to get to the information we actually want. You can hear from a persons tone of voice if they actually want to know how you are. If you can’t, listen to how others speak, to what they’re saying whilst being very aware of what they’re not saying. The idea of “reading between the lines” seems a bit contrived but it makes up a huge part of communication, even more so with people you know as you can recognise their usual mannerisms. How much easier would it be if we said what we meant?
When you’re speaking, what is it you’re trying to say? If you don’t know or aren’t confident in your belief you’re going to wander aimlessly. Know what you want to say in order to be direct and to the point. Then try using as few words as possible to illustrate this. Think of an important text message you wrote out in advance, read over it, edited it multiple times before you sent it. Now do that with your speech. Is what you’re saying serving the conversation and relationship with that person? Or simply massaging your own ego?
Encourage others to give you direct responses too. Seek clarity. “What do you mean?” can cause frustration when asked but lets us know that our point may not be clear enough or the other person hasn’t got access to all the information we have.
“What should we have for dinner?”, “I don’t mind, you choose.” Give options, communicate! “I would like Pizza for dinner, is that something you would be interested in or is there something else you would enjoy because I’m open to options!” Now you’re having Pizza and if you’re not then there’s greater communication issues at play.
Poor communication is the root of most problems in our relationships. Lack of clarity with expectations and understanding combined with being afraid to say we don’t know. This can be with a partner, family, friends, co-workers or the person serving you in a store. It can be difficult but improving how you do it will be of great benefit.