"Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought.
" -Marcus Aelius Aurelius
When we communicate in a confusing way we create uncertainty, hesitation, misunderstanding and offense. What follows can be hurt feelings, anger and even a dissolution of relationships. However, being more clear and precise in our speech just takes a little training. Here are just a few very simple tips for speaking more clearly. In other words...Ten Terrific Tips for a less Trying Tongue.
1. Put Yourself in Your Audience's Shoes
Trust me. They won't mind sharing! Think about the people to whom you are speaking. What would they expect? What might they already know about what you are about to share? What might they need explained? What examples would be appropriate, fun, expected, offensive, confusing?
2. Understand their Knowledge of the Topic
Mind reading is an admirable skill, but it doesn't take magic. God gives us powers of discernment in order that we use them to help us identify and relate to others. If you know that Uncle Mortimer doesn't have a background in computers, you might anticipate that he'd need a wee bit more explanation when you advise him of how to program his Outlook Calendar.
3. Anticipate Questions they Might Have
If Uncle Mortimer doesn't have a great deal of knowledge about computers, he might not even know what questions he should ask in order for you to help him with his Outlook Calendar. Since you understand how Outlook works, it would be helpful to Uncle Mortimer (and less time consuming for the conversation) if you anticipated what questions he might have as you instruct him.
For those of you not familiar with Ricky Ricardo, that translates "Explain." You may need to explain things you never thought you'd need to depending upon the person(s) you are speaking with and their familiarity with the topic. Sometimes a simple background before you begin will clear things up immensely.
5. Be brief
When things are complicated, it's best to be as brief as possible to avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information. Too much information on a topic someone is completely unfamiliar with can cause confusion even if you explain it well.
6. Don't Use Technical Terms
One of the fastest ways to confuse someone who has no background in a topic is to use jargon and technical terms. While you may need to educate him on a term here and there in order to get Uncle Mortimer to find the link you're talking about, don't confuse him with additional technical terms that would be more clear if stated using a word he is already familiar with.
7. Don't Mumble
I'm sure your mother always told you this, but it bears repeating. As the use of technology has grown into a way of communication life, we have gotten away from what our mothers always told us. We get lazy and forget to speak clearly. While mumbling may not adversely affect your in-person conversations about the latest movie release, it could be a source of frustration when talking with Uncle Mortimer who's having a hard enough time following where to click.
8. E NUN CI ATE
Especially if you find yourself on the phone, but even in person it's best to enunciate your words in order to avoid "frustratin the begeebers outta yur uncle o's havin a hard 'nough time jus tryin a follow along."
And while you're at it, try not to "smashallyourwordstogether." And for the love of clarity don't combine 8 and 9! "YullbefrustratinUncleMortys'muche'llavacow."
10. Remain Calm
The most important way to be clear is to remain calm and go with the flow. Some get so frustrated when someone doesn't understand them that they begin to frustrate and confuse the other party even more. Give grace and allow for human error as you go through your conversations. You'll probably find a simple way to make yourself understood in no time.
Well, there you have it. Ten Terrific Tips for a Less Trying Tongue in order that you don't Trip the Tongue Fantastic. Tune in next time when you'll have more communication fun than tongue can tell.
JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication. Her Christian and humorous approach to communication skills has made her a sought after speaker. JoJo’s articles have appeared in various homeschool magazines and websites such as Dr. Laura.com. Her Say What You Mean curricula is endorsed by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and her eBook, Say What You Mean When You’re in Business, has been used by direct sales leaders and small business owners alike. For more information, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com