Want to know a secret?
Of course you do!
Here it is … most people do NOT comprehend what they read, or what they hear, unless it is really basic.
If you don’t believe me then try it out on a few people. Send them an email that is a few paragraphs long, contains some facts and a conclusion and see how many of them actually understand it. Based on my unscientific research, but many years of working with people, I would suggest that more people will fail to understand what you write, than not.
The same goes for verbal instructions …in the normal flow of conversation, give some people verbal instructions about anything you like and I bet there will be a high failure rate.
Why is this?
Some guesses …
i. Many people have trouble focusing on one thing for any length of time (shiny object syndrome).
ii. People are generally multi-tasking … texting while listening to you, watching sports scores, thinking about their evening rather than listening etc.
iii. We operate in a fast paced world and people feel that pressure and end up doing a LOT of stuff, with very low QUALITY.
It seems incredulous to me that all you need to do is actually UNDERSTAND what you hear AND what you read in order to be ahead of the general population.
However THAT is my point. So how do you take advantage?
1. Be “in the moment” when you are having conversations. Really listen to what is said. Do NOT let your mind wander ahead to some other subject or what you want to say when this person’s lips stop moving!
2. Focus when reading anything … a white paper, a short story, an email or even a tweet. Do NOT assume you know what it is going to say. Focus and understand it before you let your brain do other things, such as respond!
3. When YOU are communicating with others make sure that what you say, and what you write, is very simple to understand. Keep It Simple, Stupid!
That’s it! I would suggest that you will quickly differentiate yourself from your peers, and that is a good step towards progression!
“If there is general law of communication it is that we never communicate as effectively as we think we do.” Charles Handy