Say It in Person

If you have something important to say, say it in person. Do not cower behind the ink of a letter. You may think you have more control with the written word, but you don’t.

In writing, you can only wield spaces and punctuation between words. In person, you have your body and environment to help articulate your point. And there can be no pensive or awkward silences on the page.

In writing, the reader sets the tone. In person, you can set the tone. A smile or frown makes a big deal.

In writing, errors and tangents hurt your argument. In person, you have the freedom to revise your statements and make mistakes. We’re human after all.

In writing, the dialogue is asymmetrical (a one-way street). In person, your conversation can be mutual. You can alter the flow of your monologue based on the listener’s questions or reactions.

It will take you longer to think your way through a letter than to speak from the heart in person. Your listener will appreciate you more in person, no matter how good or bad the news. And there’s far less room for misunderstanding and error in person. Trust me.

I wish I could tell you this in person.

If I Don’t Understand What You’re Saying, It’s Your Fault

When peers or collaborators do not understand you, do not blame it on them (it’s counterproductive). Either you have not communicated clearly enough or they have insufficient background to understand. Take credit for the miscommunication and try a different approach. Be prepared to educate.

First, identify points of comprehension. What parts did he or she understand? Use comprehension as an anchor for the rest of your revised approach. From there, tackle the incongruities. Teach concepts, use metaphors, whatever it takes to spread the butter across the bread. Repeat yourself if you need to. Repeat yourself if you need to.

Some people simply refuse to listen. It is still your fault – for not claiming attention and for choosing to speak in the first place. Know your audience. Only then will you be able to connect.

Be patient. Take responsibility. What is the point of communicating if you are not understood?