Do you hear what I think?

girl talkingWhat did he mean by that? Will she understand what I mean? Should I offer my opinion? When and how should I initiate or respond? Do I even know what I’m trying to say? 

Effective communication is always a challenge. Michael Hyatt, in his International Leadership blog, recently commented: “Thank God there is a filter in place between my brain and my mouth. If I said everything I thought, I would be in constant trouble!” He then presented an excerpt from an article he had saved called Things You’d Love to Say at Work But Can’t:

1.  I’ll try being nicer if you try being smarter.

2.  I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.

3.  I’ll pencil that in for never. Does never work for you?

4.  I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.

5.  It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.

6.  Ahhh … I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again.

7.  I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.

8.  I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don’t give a rip.

9.  I will always cherish the positive initial misconceptions I had about you.

10. The fact that no one understands you doesn’t mean you are an artist.

The challenge of public communication is no different. If anything, it’s more challenging because there are all sorts of people out there. But as community leaders, it’s our challenge! Here’s a simple mnemonic to help keep our words and our motives both appropriate and effective in all our relational transactions: RELATE.

R – Radiate. Extend your interests and concerns outward from yourself.

E – Empathize. Put yourself in the other person’s place to better understand his/her perspective.

L – Listen.  Do not merely hear, but listen with attention and comprehension to the others’ words.

A – Authentic. Be open. Be honest. Be real, relatable and authentic with yourself and your listeners.

T – Teachable. Recognize that others have both valid and valuable information to share. Learn it.

E – Engage. True communication is not unidirectional, but flows between all participants. Engage your audience for the benefit of everyone.

What do you do to relate well to your audiences?