Why it’s hard to say what you mean

I take a lot of pride in my communication with other people, both professionally and with my friends.

I think of myself as someone who often knows exactly what to say in most situations without even having to think about it—it’s something that comes naturally to me.

Sometimes, though, I find myself not saying exactly what I mean, tiptoeing around the point I’m trying to convey without being overly direct. I feel better when the person I’m speaking with comes to the conclusion on their own, but this approach sometimes leads to a failure in communication.

When this strategy fails, I find myself distraught over the fact that I wasn’t able to get my point across, and that I failed to communicate well with this person.

These failed conversations are often the most important ones that I need to be having and need to be straightforward about. When I fail to properly communicate, I’m left mulling over where I went wrong in the conversation, which can plague me for the rest of the day, future days, and even weeks.

Not saying what I mean is not good for me, it’s not good for the other person I’m communicating with, and it’s something I’m trying to completely cut out of my life. Without honest communication, you can’t get anything done or have a happy company culture.

One of my goals of 2017 is to completely eliminate these failures and continue to improve my approach to communication.

Why it’s so hard to say what you mean

For me, it mostly comes down to worrying about hurting another person’s feelings or making them upset. One worries that upsetting someone on your team will lead to future communication issues, as it becomes even harder for you to say what’s on your mind.

Why you need to say what you mean

The reason it’s so important to communicate openly is that it leads to a better sense of openness and trust. When people feel open to say what’s on their mind, that leads to a better experience for everyone overall.

We’ve all worked with people who we felt we couldn’t speak our mind to, and that always leads to issues that plague the entire team. People are nervous to talk to specific people, so they stop entirely and everyone retreats back into themselves.

One bad communication experience can often dig a hole so deep, you can’t crawl out of it.

A few things I communicate well:

  • I write open and transparent investor updates
  • I share all of my investor updates with my team
  • All numbers and financials are open within Coach (besides equity and salaries)
  • We openly share what we’re working on with our Coach customers
  • We openly ask for feedback on what our customers want us to build

What I can do better:

  • More listening
  • More one-on-ones with the team
  • Reviews (both for me and the team)
  • Completely eliminate tiptoeing around what I’m trying to convey

The world would be a lot better if everyone said exactly what they felt and people felt open to doing so— in a pleasant and friendly manner.

I’d be really interested in hearing what you do to best communicate with your team or friends.


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