My mother asked, "How many times do I have to repeat myself?"
I answered, " 'Bout a million."
At age 12, I was no wise man, just a wise guy. And I knew I had a problem with listening to my mother. Had Mom asked a specialist about my problem of not listening well, he would have told her repetition is good for communication.
Repetition is not only good for communication, it's good for exercise, playing an instrument and training horses.
You, just like me, are probably excellent at giving instructions, relaying messages and expressing your point of view. Your thoughts are verbalized or written in a way that makes perfect sense, to you.
Why is it then that our perfect instructions are so imperfectly executed?
You say to your employee: "Clean all of the stalls and check water buckets." Your employee picks through the stalls, adds bedding where he feels appropriate and fills only the water buckets that are less than half full.
You are astonished that all of the stalls are not bedded at the same level and that all of the water buckets are not full.
You say to your riding student: "Use more inside leg and push him out in the corners." Five minutes later the student complains, "He keeps cutting in on the corners, I don't know what to do."
You say to the prospective horse purchaser: "This mare is a talented athlete that wins in the show ring, but she has a low tolerance for a beginner rider."Ten minutes later the prospective buyer asks, "She'll be OK with my young children in walk-trot classes?"
Failed communication is more common than successful communication.
So how do you improve your communication in business, with friends and at home?
- Ask the listener to repeat the directions back to you
- Summarize the key points at the close of your instructions
- Rephrase the communication several ways
The following recommendation is repeatedly offered to public speakers for delivering an effective talk:
- Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em. (Introduction)
- Tell 'em. (Body)
- Tell ' em what you told 'em. (Conclusion)
Need I say more? Of course, and I will another way on a different day.