When I was a college professor, I taught a variety of courses in effective communication, from public speaking to interpersonal communication, and everything in between. And on the first day of every new semester, I would ask my class the question:
And of course, the students who wanted to be prepared, or at least impress me on the first day by reading ahead, always recited the textbook’s definition of the word – describing communication as, “A process by which the sender (the speaker) relays a message via a channel to a receiver (the listener) while avoiding or eliminating barriers of transmission.”
Although my students were right, I always corrected them by giving them a new, more practical definition of the word “communication” that if understood and mastered, would help them be more effective in connecting with others, especially in relationships. And here’s what I told them:
“Communication is simply, a message that is understood.”
I continued, “It’s not what you say, what you thought you said, what you meant to say, or even how you say it – which are all important – but none of it matters if your message isn’t understood. Communication only takes place when a message is understood.”
With that being said, as men, when it comes to communicating with others (especially your wife), you only have two responsibilities:
- As a speaker: Make sure you’re understood.
- As a listener: Make sure you understand.
In mastering, learning, and understanding the heart of your wife – you need to make sure you’re understood when you’re speaking to her. And how do you do that? By asking affirming questions:
- “Does that make sense?”
- “What do you think I meant by that?”
- “Do I need to explain that better?
And when you’re the listener, which should be most of the time – you need to make sure you understand what she’s saying when she’s speaking to you. And how do you do that? By asking clarifying questions:
- “Correct me if I’m wrong, are you saying _______?”
- “When you said ______, what did you mean by that?”
- “I’m sorry, could you explain that to me little more?
A good relationship doesn’t necessarily require agreement, but it always requires understanding. Almost every human being who’s ever been in a relationship knows that good communication is the key to the success of any relationship. A good relationship doesn’t necessarily require agreement, but it always requires understanding. So, when you’re listening, seek to understand; and when you’re speaking, seek to be understood.
Sound off: How do you effectively communicate?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt like I misunderstood you?”