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There's nothing more frustrating than when you're trying to communicate something and you can't get your point across.
It feels minor, but it truly is a mental health issue, and let me tell you why.
Feeling misunderstood breaks the connection.
But there are several ways to get your point across.
I'm going to go over four that I consider most important.
And you probably haven't thought about all four of these before.
So read on to add a few communication tools to your tool belt and start feeling more understood.
Getting My Point Across - A Personal Example
I like to start with personal examples.
Multiple times a week, I sit down and try to get my point across to hundreds of email subscribers. I have to ask myself, "How will I reach them today?"
Hundreds of issues later, I've learned a thing or two about writing mental health articles that resonate. But it's been a long journey. This did not happen immediately. Getting my point across is a skill I've had to hone.
In the process, I've learned four lessons that are applicable beyond writing emails. We all have a lifetime of writing, speaking, and behaving.
Here are the lessons gleaned from mine.
4 Ways to Get Your Point Across
1 - Describe It In Different Ways
One of the ways to get your point across is to blast the other person with as many examples as possible. Approach them from multiple angles. Highlight the big ideas for them. Show them with big, sweeping gestures, or close up and use subtle movements to make your point.
When you describe your situation in multiple ways, using multiple gestures and references, you create multiple hooks onto which another person can snag their thoughts and capture your meaning.
If one way is not working, try another. This is the most versatile and wide-reaching approach on the list. Pull everything out of your grab bag of tricks and go for it. See what sticks. Discard what doesn't. Be random and eclectic with your techniques.
2 - Use Lots of Words
One technique you may stick with or decide to discard is using lots and lots of words to describe what is going on for you.
This is very effective if you know that the other person has a thing for words. If they read a lot, or if they use lots of words themselves, then this could be an excellent way to speak their language.
Blabbering on may feel uncomfortable for you, but use the person's response to guide you. Do they start to ease up and focus more the more words that you use? Then keep going.
Words build upon words, so as long as you're tracking how the different word paths you create guide the person with whom you're talking, you'll start to spot the roads that carry the other person in the direction you want them to go.
3 - Use Hardly Any Words At All
Really? Use lots of words, followed by use hardly any words at all?
Here's the thing with words and getting your point across. While they are the best tool we have to describe what's happening to us, words also have a fatal flaw. They are just symbols. They cover up the raw experience of life. You can intuitively know something is true, but once you try to describe it, it starts to sound silly when spoken out loud.
Often, the best approach is to use fewer words.
It's one of the golden rules of making movies. Don't tell people what you want them to believe. Show them.
Because words are abstractions from the reality of experiencing life, simply being quiet and demonstrating your truth with your body and presence can speak louder than words ever can.
Again, no technique is helpful if you are not also scanning the other person to gather feedback. Is your message sinking in? If not, you'll have to alter your approach.
4 - Understand the Environment
This leads into my final point. Mental health doesn't happen in a vacuum. It happens within an environment, an environment that is social, physical, biological, spiritual, and much more. It's oh, so multifaceted.
To get your point across, you MUST consider your environment.
If you don't know what's typical for your environment, your chances of getting your point across drop dramatically. Scan your environment for clues. Ask people who know the environment the best for their advice. For any environment you are trying to navigate, there are usually a handful of super-communicators who have truly learned the implicit and explicit rules of communication. To get your point across, notice how the best communicators in your environment make their points.
In Conclusion - No Longer Feel Misunderstood
Feeling misunderstood can be crushing when you're trying to improve or maintain your mental health. That's why learning to get your point across is so incredibly important.
Any of the 4 strategies above could work for you, but you're going to have to experiment with them to find the best one or two for your particular situation.
When you successfully make your point in a variety of situations, you make your mark on the world.
Communicating effectively is a critical step in solving the gigantic mental health equation that is your life.