Have you ever been in a meeting or seminar when the person talking simply makes no sense? That’s not to say the lecture is bad, the presentation might be completely engaging, but it just doesn’t seem to mean anything to you.
It happens to me all the time. People are talking, usually speaking English, and I don’t understand what they are saying. No, I don’t have some clinical problem with my auditory processing, I can hear all of the words just fine. The problem is, they don’t make sense to me. Now, if you’ve spent any time at all around me, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of this a time or two. Once I set off on a technical tear, I tend to lose folks. Sorry, I really don’t mean for it to happen.
The truth of the matter is quite simple: I have an incorrect view of myself. One might suspect that I have an over-inflated sense of self and that I am simply too arrogant to “dumb it down.” Don’t feel bad if you’ve thought that (about me or someone else). Several years back, my very own mom was the one who broke the news to me.
At the time, I was enjoying discussing all of the exciting, high-minded things that I was learning in college and was absolutely clueless to the idea that I understood something that others did not.
With that in mind, I would like to challenge you to think about it from another perspective.
For years, I figured that if I could understand it then anyone could. If I could make sense of these ideas in my feeble brain, then clearly it is far more obvious to everyone else. Furthermore, I don’t want to insult your intelligence, so I tend to give you just enough information to connect the pieces (like a puzzle), because…once again…if I understand it, it must be obvious to you.
Unfortunately, there’s a problem with this: it doesn’t work.
That doesn’t sound like a problem with a hyper-inflated ego does it? Quite the opposite. When we do not have a correct view of ourselves, when we do not confidently communicate our ideas, we actually induce anxiety, uncertainly, or worse, apathy in our audience and it forms a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
- If I understand, surely everyone else will.
- Other people don’t understand.
- I fail to communicate my ideas and thus I fail to thrive.
Here’s the good news. It’s okay to know something other people don’t know. It’s okay to take time to explain it. This is what makes you essential. That’s why we have meetings. Meetings facilitate knowledge transfer and understanding.
Don’t worry if people already know what you are saying. I believe Seth Godin once said, once of the most effective things we can do while communicating is simply remind people of things they already knew.