Words have power. They can soothe, uplift, empower, inspire, and create vivid mind pictures. They can also wound, deceive, manipulate, gaslight, and degrade. They can implore and they can demand. If integrity is your goal, it’s important to apply that virtue to the power of your words.
Integrity means being honest and morally upright. To communicate with integrity means employing honesty, compassion, and empathy. This form of communication demands that you speak forthrightly and ensure that the message you convey is sincere, relaying it’s meaning in understandable terms.
It’s an honorable goal. So, why don’t people do it? It is because they focus on what their words mean to them. They sabotage their message by refusing to take into consideration the people they want to reach with their message. That communication is one-sided. Your focal point for good communication should be first and foremost on how the other person hears it; and then, using that knowledge, on how you convey that message.
When communication only indulges the speaker, it cannot be effective. Remember — it is not what you say, it is what people hear. If you want people to really hear you with 100% accuracy, they must also include the other party or parties. Here are seven elements to help you get it right.
1) Get to know your audience
Who is the person or persons you are talking to? What is the educational level? If it’s a group, what is the minimum level in the group. For understanding, you must use language appropriate to that level.
What is the person or group’s emotional quotient? A lower EQ may require more explanation of emotional issues. Or a more rational explanation. Any detail you can identify in your listener will give you clues how to talk so they can understand your position.
2) Develop an ear for how people hear you
It’s not what you say, it is what people hear. In the long run, people will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Integrity demands that we communicate with empathy. Be cognizant of the feelings of the person you are communicating with. Speak with conviction laced with compassion. Use assertion, not aggression.
3) Be aware of what you don’t say
Watch out for subtext – when you may not say something outright. The listener may or may not infer meaning. It is best to be explicit in your talk, so your position is clear and concise. If there is something you need to avoid saying, your reason must be of upright intentions.
4) Determine your intent
Find your place of authenticity. Derive your intent from this place. What do you want to accomplish? How are both you and that person or group best served by your speech? Keep your values at the forefront as you converse.
5) Recognize and hone the tools of communication
Use the following tools of communication to their greatest advantage: word order, emphasis, intonation, nonverbal communication, and auxiliary gestures. These elements complement your words and work together to convey just the right message. Hone them to perfection.
6) Get feedback
Be open to listening. Use reflective listening to really hear the other person’s meaning. You must determine if you are both understanding each other. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification.
7) Practice delivery and analyze what message was received
Use these tips in all your conversations, from personal to business. Later, in private, review your conversation. What did you do right? What could you improve on? If you felt you may have been misinterpreted, contact that other person and clarify.
Communication with integrity brings meaning to your relationships. Words have power. Direct your words to reveal exactly what you want them to say. Deliver them with accuracy and authenticity.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson