Sharing your thoughts isn’t always easy, especially when the topic at hand is sensitive.
Maybe you’re tired of constant questions about your plans to have kids. Perhaps you want to negotiate a raise. Or you might be aiming to help a loved one with a health intervention.
In all of these instances (as well as less-fraught situations like work strategy discussions), you have to speak clearly 🗣 to be heard 👂. These 4 expert tips can help.
Write clearly to think clearly
Happiness experts recommend journaling as an end-of-day routine–not only because it cuts down on evening screen time but because it allows you to set down your worries.
When you put your problems on paper, you stop turning them over in your mind, the thinking goes. That supports a happier mental state 🧠 and better sleep 😴.
It turns out that there’s a neuroscience basis for this strategy. How we write and speak is how we think, and vice versa.
“The brains of expert writers show more activity in regions involved in speech,” a German study found in 2014.
In other words: Writing your thoughts down will not only help you sleep more soundly 😊 but can support clearer communication when you’re awake.
The lesson: Practice writing down your thoughts, whether it’s about your work, your feelings, or anything else.
Frame the concept
Framing can work in a couple different ways. For written communication (like a blog post), you can use simple structuring techniques like subheadings. When they’re in bold text or a larger font, subheadings will highlight at a glance what you plan to say.
(Subheadings are also great for SEO 😉.)
For spoken communication, you can “introduce” what you want to say in a single, brief sentence. Consider opening with “Can we take a moment to…” or “Let’s think about…” — as opposed to just blurting out your thoughts.
Previewing what you’re about to say will make space for your voice to be heard 👋. It also tunes in your “audience” to what you’re talking about. That’s especially valuable if you’re trying to change the topic.
The lesson: Apply simple framing techniques to condition listeners/readers to hear your message.
The British sports car maker Lotus 🏎 is renowned for the design strategy coined by its founder, Colin Chapman: Simplify, then add lightness. Lotus cars first appeared in the mid-20th century, when most passenger vehicles were huge and ponderous. By aiming for lightness in each and every part, Lotus crafted cars that were different (and better) than everything else on the road.
Adding lightness applies to communication, too. “Cut to the bone but not into it,” B2B sales expert Geoffrey James writes for Inc. magazine.
What he means is to pare back what you want to say ✂️ to its essential bits and pieces. When your core message is as simple and straightforward as it can be, you can augment it with stories or personal anecdotes that bring the narrative to life.
The lesson: As you craft your message, winnow it down to be as simple as possible.
Direct requests for feedback will go a long way. But keep it open-ended 🌞 so your listeners feel they can be honest.
“What are your thoughts on this topic?” you might say.
To get feedback, you may not even need to ask for comments.
“If you stand quietly for 20 seconds with an expectant expression, social pressure will inevitably produce the first question,” sales guru James says.
Feedback deepens your listeners’ engagement with what you’re saying. By encouraging them to share their thoughts, you invite them to think critically. You’ll not only make them feel valued 🤗 but empower them to expand on your ideas.
The lesson: Directly or indirectly, open yourself up to feedback on the ideas you’re trying to communicate.
Do you have any strategies for clarifying your communication? Let us know on social media 💯 @illumyinc.
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash.