Effective communication is a two-way street. Two-way. Outgoing and then incoming. Or receiving the response. You see without a response from the intended party, it is most likely unknown if they even received, let alone understood, the message. It reminds me of when I am watching TV, reading a book, or have my nose in my phone. I think I hear my wife saying something, but not sure it’s directed at me, so I choose to ignore it. Well, at least until I hear, “CHRIS!, Did you hear me?” I didn’t. And I am sure I didn’t understand her message, either.
It’s like that when we speak or message each other. One party messages another. No response. The thought that runs through our heads is “Did you hear me?” Without a response or an acknowledgment, the original message sender is just preaching or dictating, or in many cases, talking to themselves. I recently texted my son about the arrival of his mother-in-law. I texted. Waited. And waited. And waited. I was convinced he had lost his phone or was ignoring me (both possible). Finally, I called him and asked if she had arrived. He said, “oh yeah, she got here a while ago. All good.” I thought you know, a simple text back stating her status would have allowed me to complete the circle of communication and move on. But nooooooo….I kept looking at my phone for hours (probably minutes), expecting an update.
But you see, communication is not a straight line. It is a circle. Otherwise, it is not communicating – it’s just speaking. This brings to mind if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there – does it make a sound? Without a receiver to acknowledge the sound, do we ever really know? And we don’t learn unless we receive feedback? I challenge us to think about effective communication as a circular process. One in which we send out messages and wait for acknowledgment or confirmation of receipt (not necessarily an understanding). So, if you are receiving a message, provide feedback, albeit briefly. So your sender recognizes you received it. Suggested responses could include: “got it,” “cool,” “on it,” “yep,” “will do,” “can do,” “good point,” “let me think about it,” “back at ya” or something along those lines.
In doing this, you may not be a great communicator, but you will be a better communicator, moving things along to be better understood. Hope this helps…..hello? Are you there? Maybe it’s just me.