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They don’t understand, I don’t understand why!

This week I had a conversation with a friend who is half way through a three months programme of weekly training.  When asking what she had covered this week the answer was “I’m not really sure.” I knew she had attended the session and asked “what do you mean?” She explained how she had been listening for the full hour and a half but didn’t really understand the content so found it really hard to concentrate and didn’t want to disrupt the group by asking lots of questions.  After all how hard is it to say to someone after half an hour, “I don’t understand anything you’ve covered so far”. The trouble is each week follows on from the week before.  So she’ll need to understand before the next session or she’ll be lost off again.

It reminded me of one of the key factors to communication.  Often when communicating with others whether to one individual or a group we think if we explain things clearly they will understand.  But what we think is clear may not necessarily be for someone else.  It’s our job as the communicator to check for clues that they understand.  Either by asking them to recap, using your sensory acuity to observe body language and look for their reaction or listen to their responses to what you have said.

There is no easier place to experience miss communication than with children.  They are often very literal in their understanding of language. I was only chatting with my daughter the other day.  She was a little upset as her golf ball had gone under the sofa.  She said she couldn’t reach it.  I said, “You need to lie down on the floor to reach it”.  Less than a minute later I saw her lying down in the middle of the room facing the ceiling saying she still couldn’t reach it.  Guess I should have been more specific.

One of the Key topics covered when completing a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Licensed Practitioner course is language skills.  These skills are both verbal and non verbal.  Along with how people encode, store and retrieve data which gives great insight into communication.  One of the key things I learned in those early days of study was that everyone’s experience is different even in the same situation.  When we say something for instance it can be understood in many different ways depending on the individual. It’s for us as communicators to ensure the message we want to get across is communicated in such a way that minimal distortion can be made by the receiver.

I have advised my friend mentioned above to give the lecturer a call before the next session and explain the situation. I wonder if the lecturer will cover some of the content in a different way next week or give her some material to go through before next week’s session. She’s probably not the only one who hasn’t quite grasped the topic covered.

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