Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Did I Just Say?!

Have you ever had that experience where you just finished saying something and you immediately wonder, "What did I just say?" Or how about that moment when you're giving an impassioned talk and when you pause for a moment you notice the blank stares on the faces of the people you're talking to and you can hear crickets in the audience. The worst is when we are speaking to students and they completely misinterpret something that we are attempting to communicate to them. We've all been there as leaders, teachers, and speakers. So what do we do about it? Ensuring that our message is communicated correctly is more important than we realize.

One of the all-time best courses I have taken in my own education was related to psycho-metrics and how the mind works. What we don't realize is that 85% of what we intend to communicate, get's interpreted differently than we want it to. In our head, we here the beautiful symphonies of Beethoven when we speak. Our listeners however are hearing the challenging sounds of the third grade beginning string orchestra playing Mary Had a Little Lamb. Roughly 15% of what we say gets communicated correctly. If we can remember that, it helps to ensure that the message was received because we can differentiate the message as needed based on the audience.

Ironically, this same phenomenon can help to open up lines of communication between staff and students within a school. When we recognize that we may not be communicating correctly and acknowledge that deficit of 85%, we become open to allowing people to question us. Those probing questions open the door for dialogue, learning, and collaboration. So, the next time someone questions you on what you just said, instead of being defensive and assuming they didn't listen or disagree, take the question as an opportunity. It's an opportunity to ensure that the message is communicated clearly and that communication lines become open. So please, ask me what I just said to you because I would rather know that the message was received, rather than hope you understand.

Worth the Read...

Take a Moment to Self Reflect and Grow...

My reflection moment this week is more about allowing others to help you reflect and grow. We often get evaluated by our superiors, but rarely get evaluated or welcome evaluations by those that we serve. Take a page from the customer service manual and ask your students to evaluate you. Or if you're an administrator, ask your staff to evaluate you. The feedback will most likely be true growth producing feedback.