We often hear talk about the importance of effective communication as the cornerstone to communication. It is true that all of our communications should be effective. But to add more clarification to what effective is we must go one step further and consider understanding. Communication on any level can be extremely complex and filled with so many nauseas that it is surprising we ever get it right. Fortunately we do more often than not. And it is here that understanding plays the greatest role in communication.
Many times even our most honest attempt at being an effective communicator meet some unanticipated road block, however because we have put the time into the development of the message we are trying to communicate, some amount of understanding is achieved. To be effective in communication implies you have consider the message that needs to be sent, considered and chosen the right method of communication, verbal or written, and aware of the receiver and know how to best connect with them. This is good and should be practiced and considered in any form of communication. Now we have to do it all with the intent of understanding.
Communicating for understanding implies that we know communication is a fluid activity and space needs to be created to allow for questions, clarification and in some cases redirection. When we communicate for understanding we are satisfied with our efforts to convey a message when the receiver has acknowledged clarity and comprehension of the message. In theory this process seems almost intuitive and quite elementary yet in practice it becomes a seven headed monster. Communicating effectively and for understanding takes time. Time that we may feel we don’t have. How many times have we said something like, “I should have proof-read that note before sending it” or maybe “I could have approached them at a better time” or even “I shouldn’t have mentioned that”.
As we grow and learn we will constantly have to work on communication because it is ever changing and there will be times we don’t get it right. In communicating for understanding we are reducing the number of times we get it wrong and increasing the times we get it right.