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Getting the message across

When the lips are flappin’, but the brain ain’t kickin’ in

Despite all best efforts, some people are simply difficult to communicate with.  You’ve likely met a difficult communicator; no matter how hard you try, they seem to miss chunks of conversations.  No matter how clear the note, they still twist the message.  No matter how explicit the instructions, they still manage to screw them up.  It doesn’t seem to matter what type of communication you use, how quickly or slowly you speak, how many metaphors or descriptions you provide, or how transparent and clear-cut your writing is.

I’ve got a few ideas of my own as to why certain people are persistently difficult to communicate clearly with:

1: They habitually fail to pay focused attention to the person or item at hand. 

This is a big problem in an age where information flies at us a mile a minute, where we are in a perpetual state of stimuli overload, and where people are proud that they can “check emails and have a conversation at the same time” (hint: they can’t).  After a while, having a fractured attention span that wanders from one thing to the next – even if it is only wandering to the chattering in the person’s own head – becomes habitual.  This is a habit we need to break.  Focus and attention span is something that can be improved through concerted effort and mindfulness, but it is possible.  This is something that I myself am working on improving, and while it might not be easy, it is rewarding.

2. They have an agenda they are pursuing.

Realistically, we are all pursuing our own agendas at all times.  These agendas can be completely benign (I’m hungry, so I’m going to bring this conversation to an end so I can eat), altruistic (I want to help this person), or more…suspect (use your imagination).  Depending on the urgency and prevalence of that agenda, communications can very easily be twisted to ensure that the person hears or reads what they need to hear or read at the time.  With some people and in certain situations or organizations, this can colour just about any communication instance.

3. They do not feel you have anything of interest or worth to say.

This is pretty self-explanatory, and can be due to myriad issues.  At any rate, the person simply becomes accustomed to filtering out what you say.  This can be seen in situations where weak leadership has lead to mistrust or downright dismissal of just about anything a manager could have to say.

4. They’re paranoid.

We’ve all encountered at least one person who interprets just about anything directed at them to be either an insult, a threat, or at the very least something that contains subtext of which they must be deeply suspicious.  I find this is usually paired with either whipcrack tempers or with timidity and low confidence.

5. It’s not them…it’s you/me!

This is a tricky one; if it seems like everyone is impossible to communicate effectively with, or if you never have a good reasonable chat with a person, the issue might be looking at you from a mirror.  Look for the common denominator – if you have trouble with everyone, is it likely that the whole world is made up of crappy communicators except yourself?  If you are the only person in an organization who persistently has a major communication hang-up with a particular individual, does that mean that the individual is a good communicator with everyone except you?  Admitting that the problem may be us is difficult, but the good news is that means it is possible for us to change the situation.  Maybe you need to get to know the other person better and develop more understanding of their mannerisms.  Maybe you need to improve certain areas of your communication style to ensure you are giving the message you need.  Either way, changing ourselves is a lot easier than changing other people!


About Lauren Sergy

Lauren is a public speaking and communication coach and professional loudmouth. She is the owner of Up Front Communications, a coaching and consulting service dedicated to empowering people and businesses through the art of communication.


One thought on “When the lips are flappin’, but the brain ain’t kickin’ in

  1. I was a Professional Speaker in Singapore some 20 years ago and I trained young union leaders in the Asia Pacific Region on learning skills cum positive thinking. I am a Chartered Financial Consultant and Chartered Life Underwriter by profession.

    I attended Lauren Sergy’s presentation in our life insurance brokerage office in May 2012. Her broad confident smile immediately gave me the first impression that she knew what she was delivering….’Delivering persuasive speech to a difficult audience’. Less than 10 minutes into her 45 minutes workshop she underscored my first impression!

    After her speech Lauren agreed to come to one of my presentation on my part-time networking business to be the critic. I am so glad for all her constructive comments……from my body language, loundness, eye contacts with the audience, etc. Her comments come along with encourage to empower me to become a more persuasive speaker. She is beyond the level of a Professional Speaker.

    Bernard CHAN BSc (First Class Honours), MSc, CLU, CH.F.C.
    780 429-8888, Edmonton, Alberta.

    Posted by Bernard Chan BSc, MSc | June 20, 2012, 1:55 PM

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Up Front Communication

Up Front Communication delivers high-impact training in key communication skills such as public speaking, persuasion, and presentation delivery. Let experienced speaker and trainer Lauren Sergy help you and your employees better your communication skills through challenging and entertaining one-one-one coaching and group workshops.

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