Communication is an integral part of human relationships. We all communicate on a daily basis and in a variety of ways. The question in any given situation is whether we are expressing ourselves clearly. That is not necessarily the easiest thing to do.
Not being clear can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. It can create problems that did not previously exist. On the other hand, learning to clearly express yourself can go a long way toward making you a better communicator. Listening is the other part of it, but that is another topic for another post.
Below are five tips to help you express yourself more clearly. As you read them, bear in mind that good communicators do not master expressing themselves overnight. Learning the skill takes time and practice.
1. Read the Room
There is a concept in showbusiness known as ‘reading the room’. The idea is to know your audience and deliver your performance accordingly. It is a principle that works when you are trying to express yourself. Reading the room enables you to get your message across in whatever way is most suitable to the audience.
A good way to illustrate this point is to look at communicating with a child as opposed to an adult. Try expressing to a child why the sky is blue. At six years old, they are not going to understand the scientific explanation. You don’t bother. You tell them something they can understand at their level. You save the scientific explanation for their parents
2. Know Your Intent
Whenever you are trying to express your thoughts or opinions, be sure you know your intent. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, you may have trouble expressing your thoughts clearly. It’s a lot like going on a trip without understanding where you’re going. If you don’t know the destination, how will you ever get there?
3. Think Outside the Box
Clearly expressing your thoughts and ideas doesn’t necessarily require a formal conversation, a written letter or email, etc. Do not fall into the formality trap. Think outside the box. For example, you might want to express the fact that you’re proud of your Hispanic heritage. Fine. Buy a PlurawlLatinX T-shirt or sweatshirt with a positive message printed on it. Every time you wear it, you’ll be expressing pride in your culture.
4. Learn the Difference Between Tact and Ambiguity
There are times when expressing your thoughts carries with it the risk of being offensive. Most people don’t like to offend, though there are exceptions to that rule. At any rate, not offending by being ambiguous doesn’t help. It’s best to learn the difference between tact and ambiguity, preferring to practice the former rather than the latter.
Tact makes it possible to express your thoughts while keeping offense to a minimum. There are tactful ways to say just about anything that could otherwise be construed as negative. If you can learn to be tactful, you will not have to rely on ambiguity to avoid offending people.
5. Say What You Mean
Along those same lines, the key word in expressing yourself clearly is ‘clearly’. Doing so requires that you say what you mean. If you speak in terms with hidden meanings, you’re not being clear. If you beat around the bush in hopes that your audience will eventually reach the right conclusion, you’re not being clear.
Expressing yourself clearly is part science and part art form. It takes skill and practice. Start working on these five tips now and you should gradually see an improvement in the way you express yourself.