Communication skills

What it means to be a good communicator

- August 19, 2007 2 MIN READ

Judging by our poll results, we reckon we’re very good communicators. 70% of respondents describe their ability to communicate as ‘higher than average’.

But what does it mean to be a ‘good communicator’? My guess is most respondents assessed themselves in terms of how well they relayed ideas or concepts via writing and speaking. This is certainly how I interpreted it.

But on reflection, I’ve realised someone who’s a master of words can still be a lousy communicator. How so? By habitually not saying what they mean, or acting out.

Not sure if you’re a culprit? Here are some examples: someone says “Do you mind..?” and you say “Not at all” even though you do. You respond “I’m fine” when you’re far from it.

Reasons for acting out include: you can’t decide whether to assert yourself, you don’t want to upset someone or conversely, you use it as a device to manipulate others.

Often, it occurs when you’re aggrieved, although the strategy is far from helpful because real feelings that go unexpressed end up manifesting anyway, normally in a passive aggressive way.

What makes it confusing for those around you is that if they take you at face value, they’re wrong, and even if they recognise what you’re doing, they can’t guess at what you really mean.

Want more articles like this? Check out the communication skills section.

Saying what’s in your heart can be hard when you’re taught to comply. We’re told “It’s not nice to say no” but you know what? It’s not nice to say “yes” or “not at all” or “I’m fine” when you don’t mean it.

So next time a client says “I know I’ve not paid you for the last job yet, but can I brief you on a new one?” Don’t say “Okay” and then do a rubbish job for them because you’re miffed or demotivated. Explain that it’s simply not your policy and that you’d be happy to hear from them once the debt’s cleared.

If you can be honest without being tactless, then you have the makings of a very good communicator.

Do you agree? Don’t be shy, tell me what you really think.