Are you direct in your communication?

Are you direct in your communication?

You communicate with other people all the time.  It can be through talking, how you convey your message and the actions of your body. In this blog, I want you to consider what you communicate, rather than how you communicate.

The question for you is whether you really take notice of what is being communicated? You may think you understand what the other person is saying, but there are times you won’t understand exactly what the other person is trying to communicate to you.  This can be due to a mismatch in yours and their communicate style.  In NLP, which helps to understand how this all works, we recognise that when people speak, they are accessing and using their representational system in their way.  Their language can contain assumptions, metaphors (a way of describing one thing in terms of another), direct or indirect language and many other styles.

If somebody said to you “can you close the door?” what would you say to them? Would you answer their questions simply with a “yes” or “no”, or would you physically get up and go and close the door?

If you take what the person actually said, then it is a direct question which requires a direct answer of yes, no or maybe. You use direct and indirect language often in your communication.  When a person hears what you say, they will interpret it as either a direct suggestion asking a question where the answer is yes or no, or they will interpret it as an indirect suggestion implying that we want them to physically close the door.

If a person uses a lot of indirectly language when they speak, then they will usually be looking for indirect language from you. Likewise, if a person uses direct language, they expect that others are saying it directly as stated.

This causes confusion in communication because as the listener we think we are responding to what the person communicated to us, however if one side is using direct language and the other indirect language then it is as if we are speaking a foreign language.

An example of where this confusion occurs is with young children.  From my experience with children, they mainly respond to direct language.  As they grow, if the parents use more indirect language with the child, they begin to develop the ability to learn about indirect language.  If you give a child and indirect suggestion, they may not understand it as indirect, and will perform the suggestion literally as suggested, if a good child. However, as the parent is speaking indirectly, the outcome will be different from what was expected. The parents then get annoyed or frustrated because they say the child has not done what they were told, even though the child actually did what they were asked.

I remember a parent who related a story to me regarding this type of problem. They wanted their son to clean up his room.  So they said to him “Can you clean up your room?”  The child responded with “yes” and then proceeded to walk past the parent sit on the couch and play with the ipad.  The parent became annoyed because they though the child had agreed to clean up their room.  But the child had actually just answer a question of whether they could clean up their room or not. They had not actually been told when to clean up their room.

In NLP we have a saying “you are responsible for your communication.”  This means that you are responsibility for helping the other person understand you.  So, for example, if you ask them to do help you in some way and they do not do it, think about whether you were indirect or direct? As you practice recognising how you communicate and become more responsible for it, you will find that your communication with others improves.


David Donahoo

Comments are closed.