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Communication: Do You Understand What I’m Saying to You?

There’s always that one person at work who can’t seem to spit out what she wants to say. What should take one sentence eats up five minutes of your day, and the worst part is that you still don’t know what she means! It gets even trickier when that person is your boss. You may get a run-on email or cornered in the hall and must decipher something like this: “I’ve spoken to John Smith, and he has some suggestions about the ad copy that we sent over a few days ago. I didn’t know whether you had any ideas about how to…” What she really means is: “The client didn’t like our ad. We need to pitch another ad in two days. Get busy.”

Since you can’t exactly scream in frustration and demand that she stop dancing around her message, you’ll have to practice some techniques that are taught in couples counseling. Parrot back to her what you think she said. “What you’re saying is…” This gives her a chance to say “yes” or “no” and clear up any confusion. If you have absolutely no idea what she means, say so nicely. “I’m not sure I understand what you need from me. Do you need…?”

Now here’s the really hard part. Take a minute to consider whether you’re the one guilty of blathering. Is it possible? If, more than once a day, you’re interrupted before you get to the end of your “story” or someone asks you to clarify your statement, you may be a rambler. The solution? Stop trying to avoid conflict at any cost. Think about what your real message is, and then say it—without the fluffy filler.

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