It’s Easy for You, So How Do You Communicate It?

Portrait of a beautiful businesswoman having a headache against

Back in high school, one of my math teachers was an amazingly brilliant mathematician. The problem was that she could not explain the concepts well and as a result, many students, including me struggled in her class. She either would explain the concepts quickly excluding key steps or “dumb them down” so much that it was ridiculous. After months of feeling confused in her class, I went to another math teacher (who could easily translate his knowledge into understandable language) and spent about 10 minutes with him and quickly understood all the concepts.

It got me to thinking about how people can assume that if something comes easily to them, or if they deal with the same thing regularly, that everyone will know about it too. I think this is one of the downfalls of positive communication in the workplace.

We all have hidden talents, those things about ourselves that we don’t see as a skill because they come so easily to us. Because it’s easy for us, and makes sense to us, we can fall into the trap of thinking it’s so for everyone else or becoming frustrated and “dumbing it down” to the point of being condescending.

As a leader, what are you assuming others know about or understand? Do you allow time in meetings or have an open door policy that people can ask for clarification? Do they feel safe to speak up, or fear that they may be ridiculed if they approach you?

To help minimize this happening for you, ask yourself:

  1. What are things that come easily for me? Take the time to make a list of these skillsets will increase your own awareness.
  2. Who in my team struggles with these skillsets? Look for ways to be clear, and then invite more dialogue to ensure comprehension. How might you deliver the message in different ways that enable better understanding from all team members?
  3. What have I assumed everyone knows about? How might I open dialogue in a manner in which people can ask for clarity?
  4. How can I ensure in the future that I allow sufficient time to ensure that all questions get answered? Sometimes the ‘stupid’ question, when listened to becomes a point of clarity or innovation.

Transparency as a leader is a skillset. Being open that you may not have communicated clearly and want to ensure everyone has clarity, is a way to open up the dialogue and invite questions. Remember we all have different perspectives and complementary talents – when we take time to understand each other’s perspectives and ensure that we have communicated with clarity to allow understanding, we can begin to co-create!

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