Words Are Hard

Sometimes when I talk to someone I get tripped up on my words. I know what I want to say. In my head it’s so clear. But the words that come out are jumbled and disorganized.

What’s worse is that, in my head, I can see the newspaper clippings and the social media fanfare proclaiming what a good communicator I am. Tweets and posts about how I said something noteworthy and how my precise communication saved the day.

What happens though, is that I think I’ve made a point only to find out that the person I’m talking to still has no idea what I’ve been trying to say. This phenomenon gets compounded when I talk with someone who doesn’t have a shared background or culture.

Communicating for understanding is difficult and takes effort. There is responsibility on both sides. The communicator needs to use words and examples that the receiver will grasp, and the receiver needs to be honest about their level of understanding and ask questions.

It’s much easier for me to speak into the ether, paying no mind to whether the person I’m communicating with has understood. This is especially true in positions of power or authority. It’s not my job to ensure the person that I’m talking to really understands.

Or is it my job?

What it comes down to is that real communication isn’t easy, and words are hard.

If I have an expectation for how something will turn out, I have found that I need to be explicit about assumptions. It’s not enough to just use words. Words are hard. I need to communicate and that takes a lot more effort.

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