No matter what we do in life, we spend a lot of time communicating. Some of us are naturally more skilled at it than others. Whatever your natural skill level, you can improve your communication skills. One way to improve your communication is to think about communicating with C A R E.
C is for Clear. Think about what you are going to say with your audience in mind. What will make your message clear to them? Think about such things as their age, education, and experience. No one likes to be talked down to and similarly, no one likes to feel that they aren’t smart enough to understand what someone is saying. If you use jargon in your profession, translate into the language used by your audience. If you aren’t sure if someone has understood what you have said, check it out. Be genuinely curious about what they have understood.
A is for Authentic. Make sure that your message comes from your heart and is really what you truly think and feel. While your style should be tailored to your audience, as discussed above, your content should be what is authentically true for you. If you are communicating something you have to offer, don’t promise more than you can deliver. If you have an emotional response to someone or something (anger or gratitude, for example), say so, without over or under stating your emotional response. Say what is so—it doesn’t serve anyone to speak in code language or to hint at something and hope someone will understand what you are thinking or feeling.
R is for Respectful. Be respectful of the person with whom you are communicating by trusting that they can handle the content of your message if it is delivered with CARE. Be respectful of yourself by trusting that you can handle the response you receive. If you are communicating a complaint, use an I-message. An I-message includes a non-inflammatory description of the behavior that is a problem for you; how the behavior makes you feel; and the tangible effect the behavior has on you.
E is for Efficient. If you have something you want to communicate, don’t ramble on about other things trying to get up the courage to say what it is you really want to say. Your message will be lost in the preamble. If it’s possible to say something in a few sentences, don’t use a few paragraphs. Say what you want to say, then give the other person a chance to respond. If you are communicating about someone’s impact on you, do so as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. Once a week has gone by, the content is stale and your message isn’t very effective.