Say what you mean…


Communication Breakdown, originally uploaded by Stéfan.

… and mean what you say

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to a receptionist and upon asking the question, “Will she be in tomorrow?” met by the reply, “She should be in tomorrow”.

“Hmmm”, I thought, “This needs further clarification.”  “Are you saying she may not be in tomorrow or will she definitely be in tomorrow?”   Again I was met with, a rather more curt version this time, “As I said, she should be in tomorrow.”

At this, I realised that we could go on like this all day.  I smiled to myself aware that I was trying to train someone in communication skills over the phone who hadn’t asked for or wanted my training and I was probably starting to irritate her.

Sometimes, I notice that things I learn I easily forget and I’m blessed to know and be surrounded by many people who are involved in the personal development or inter-personal skills industry.

This, however, has become a bit of a “2 edged sword” as I’m so used to communicating with people who say what they mean and mean what they say, or if not, they’re attending a workshop or 121 to learn how to communicate more effectively.

This receptionist, I realised was giving an answer which she saw as a polite and courteous way to respond.

For me the word, “should” equals “maybe, possibly, might do and I’m uncertain”.  A word, that since I began my own communication skills journey and especially in training others to be more assertive, my ears prick up at.

This situation, with the receptionist, also made me aware of how I’ve changed in the way I speak and the language I use.

I remember, very clearly being brought up to remember my “pleases and thank yous” and that, “I want doesn’t get” and “manners make-eth man”.  This was drummed in so sufficiently that I when I used to ask for something, I’d quietly state, “please can I have a ….. please”.  2 “pleases” just to make sure I was remembering my manners!

So when I attended an Assertion Training course for women in 2001 and was introduced to the idea of making a request utilizing the phrase “I want”, well this really threw me.  I was so shocked, that my jaw almost hit the floor!  (Only joking, but I was very surprised).

Over the next few years I learnt to identify and acknowledge my wants, amongst other things.  And as for the word, “Should”, I learnt very quickly that

a) “Should” often bears little resemblance to and effect on the reality of what actually is

b) That the use of it is often guilt inducing for the listener

c) It can signal what the speakers expectations are

I’ve found that over the years I’ve become fascinated by people’s use of language and more specifically how people, myself included, tell others about who we are, how and what they think and believe as well as their capabilities and attitudes.

Choosing the words I use, thus how I express myself, carefully, has become more and more important to me over the years, until it’s now practically second nature.  For me, it’s part of expressing my inner value of integrity, desire to live more authentically and something that I vowed to do at the end of the first Assertiveness course I attended.

The ability to “Say what you mean and mean what you say” is a key component in assertive behaviour.  And not only did I vow to do this more in my own life, I also vowed to teach these skills to others.  Which, I’m glad to say I do.

(c) Prosperity X

Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 4:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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