The art of transitioning from being heard to understood in 3 steps!

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you had a lot of knowledge to share but your message was not being understood?  Did that make you feel like, you were in a room with aliens that were just not getting it?  Well you are not the only, a lot of people have experienced this syndrome at least once in their careers since communications is one of the hardest things to do. There is a big difference between being heard and being understood, if the others are not understanding you, it is not them, it is you, you have to figure out a way to make them understand your message.


We share three tips that can help you transition from being heard to being understood:


  1. Understand your audiences:

Understanding your audience is probably the hardest thing to do especially if you have not met them or know them very well.  At an individual level, you have to try to understand the personality style of the individual which could be one of the 4 key personality style,  results oriented or great ideas or someone that genuinely cares first about how others feel or a detailed oriented person that wants to make sure that everything is correct.   The reason this is important is for you to be able to modify your own personality style to meet them halfway such that the communication is tailored to their personality style else you will lose their interest very quickly.  In a group setting, you have to make an assumption that the room is going to be evenly split from a personality standpoint among all the participants and the key areas of focus are on the demographics of the room, why are they here, what bonds them together, etc.

  1. Plan the session with empathy by putting yourself in their shoes:

You have to plan for the discussion or meeting by putting yourself in their shoes first and then pondering on questions like:

  • Why would they meet with you or attend your session?
  • What are their expectations?
  • What could be their fears and concerns?
  • What is the medium of communication that they would prefer?
  1. Tell it like a story:

Once you have understood the audience and planned the conversation or session the next thing to do is to deliver flawlessly.  The first step to deliver flawlessly is to clearly map out the meeting or presentation in your mind like a story:

  • Provide the backdrop at a very high level
  • Make it personal, “as I was planning for this meeting, I was thinking as to what you would like to hear from me ….
  • This is what I have prepared, did I miss anything?
  • Think of your opening statement and closure
  • Practice the scenario in your mind till you are comfortable

The second step is to put the appropriate collateral together for the meeting or presentation which could include data charts, pictures, videos, exercises, polls, etc. based on the audience.

Communications is one of the hardest things we do on a daily basis, little miscommunications can lead to large challenges in the workplace, at school and at home.  In this day and age, we rely on technology as part of our communications tool which is a blessing and a curse but that is the topic of another discussion.