When we communicate we have the expectation that what we are saying is being processed. That can be a very shaky place to be. Fire! is different than fire. We see a huge flame and danger and look for a way to escape, while others simply see a little flicker from a candle. In other words, our message was heard but not truly understood.
Sometimes it is the words we use, sometimes it is the emotion or lack there of, sometimes it can be the sense urgency that we are not fully communicating. The words come out of our mouth but the message somehow has gotten lost between our lips and their ears. Maybe we understand something differently than what our words project? Maybe we aren’t using the right words to explain what is happening, what we are feeling, what we are concerned about? Maybe we are saying what we think our audience will understand when we really don’t know. We get it but they obviously don’t.
Instead of just talking more, and more and more maybe it would be better if we stopped talking and asked what they understood about what we just said. It’s the power of the pause. People need time to process, to ponder, to think about what they just heard. If we keep talking they do not get time to process. When we pause we give them the freedom to process and understand. It means we have to become comfortable with silence. It means we are no longer the center of attention. It means we have said enough and are willing to let the message work its magic to change and be understood.
Next time you are using words to communicate your message be sure to also employ the power of silence. The two go together and are well suited to help you communicate what it is you want your audience to understand. Otherwise all you are doing is shouting about FIRE! and the people only understand a flickering candle.