Express Yourself: Making Your Words Count

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.


Make sure that you’re being heard

Sometimes you don’t have to say a lot in order to be heard

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a long diatribe, feeling like you’re explaining yourself for the seventh time, wondering why on earth you’re still having to have this conversation? I’m sure you have, and that’s completely fine. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe it’s not their fault for not listening? Maybe you simply aren’t communicating in a way that will get heard. I’ve found there are a couple ways to communicate to ensure your message gets across the right way, the first time. 

Keep it simple. Nothing gets a message lost like surrounding it with a bunch of adjectives or illustrative stories. Keep your message simple. Think of it this way: If you can’t write it in a paragraph, it’s probably too long for someone to properly remember.

Be direct. In line with the above, don’t hem and haw, just get your message out there. That doesn’t mean be crass. Be gracious, but there’s no need to beat around the bush when you’re trying to communicate. Oftentimes it does nothing more than allow the listener to misconstrue what you’re trying to communicate. 

Don’t be aggressive. Sometimes when you have an important message to get across, you can come off as being bossy or even aggressive. It’s important to make sure your message is heard, but being overly pushy will only serve to put your audience on the defense and most people shut down in defensive mode. 

Have them repeat what you said. If you really want to ensure that your message was understood, ask to have it repeated back to you. That doesn’t mean have them parrot it back, but have them describe things to you in their own words. This makes it much more likely that this person will relate to and remember the message.


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