Understanding and Being Understood

Have you ever had a conversation with another individual and wondered if you were understood at all? Have you at times had a conversation with yourself and wondered if you understand yourself? Communication is a tool that we take for granted and don't get the opportunity to build skill in very often- but it is the most important tool in the toolbox for vision development, time management, strategic planning, facilitation, team building, interpersonal communications, conflict resolution and leadership skills.

Keys to clear communication focus on being able to verbalize what you observe, think, feel, and want and identifying what you are willing to do. Utilizing a tool know as "the awareness wheel" creates a map including the five zones and enables you to more effectively process important information about yourself. All five are present in your experience, even though you may not be conscious of all of them.

Observing- What are you observing about yourself and the other person, including the verbal and non-verbal data taken in through the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste? What is actually said is only 7% of the message, 30% is the way it is said and the rest is the visual impact of what is said. Look and listen for the data in yourself and the other person. Your actions and those of others- both verbal and nonverbal- become your sensory input. Example: is your voice becoming louder?

Thinking- What you "think" is going on is the "meaning" that you make of your reaction. Your beliefs influence your perceptions of sensory data. Your interpretations represent how you put the world together. Your expectations are how you organize the future. Example: "I think you are scared".

Feelings- Your emotional response, or feelings, are your spontaneous internal, physical responses to the comparison between that which you expect and that which you experience. Words used to describe feelings include angry, happy, afraid, bored, excited, disappointed, concerned and anxious. Feelings are information and valuable for you to check in with to see what is really going on. By really checking in with your feelings you can be much more clear about what is going on for you. Example: "I feel happy".

Want- What is your real intention? Wants are your desires, intentions and wishes for yourself, others and your relationships together. They may be your mini-plans, goals, objectives, or priorities. One usually has multiple wants. Example: "I want to set a goal for completion".

I do (the action)- What I actually do or am willing to do to see that the request is followed through or behavior is enhanced or changed. It is what you have been doing, are doing, or are willing to do. Example: "I am willing to set an appropriate deadline".

By first communicating clearly with yourself, you can walk the awareness wheel and know what you truly want from a conversation with someone and be more truthful, both with yourself and the other person. A quality conversation can occur and you can create the opportunity to be fully understood, heard, and you can hear others more clearly.