Communication is the key to positive, meaningful relationships in all areas of our lives—home, school, college, and career. Wherever we are in life, the ability to relate to others and communicate clearly gives us an advantage. In our SuperCamp programs we teach students some powerful tools for achieving clear, constructive communication and maintaining positive relationships.
This series includes the following communication topics:
- #1 – Open the Front Door: Communicate negative feelings with a positive approach
- #2 – Four-Part Apology: Quickly and authentically acknowledge and apologize for mistakes
- #3 – Three Conversation Don’ts: Avoid communication killers like reassurance, advice, and identification
- #4 – Active Listening: Pay attention to the words and the non-verbal communication in a conversation
- #5 – Visible communication: Make your intent visible, make your purpose clear
This is the last article in our communication series and though this is not commonly written about, it’s an important element of effective communication. When we make our intention clear, it’s much easier for the other person to respond.
Got a Minute? Visible vs. Invisible Communication
“Got a minute?” Has anyone ever asked you this? Does it immediately send up a yellow flag in your mind: Why is he asking me this? Does he want me to have a cup of coffee with him? Does he want advice, or a favor? Does he want help on a project? It’s an invisible question—you don’t know what he wants, you do know it probably won’t take just a minute—and you don’t know how to respond. Your honest answer is probably, “For what?” But you don’t feel comfortable being so blunt even though you do feel cornered.
All of us probably get this uncomfortable question now and then. The best response may be to remind the person to be visible with “Why are you asking?” or “Tell me more.” This way, rather than the blunt “For what?” or saying “Yes” without having any idea of what’s coming, we’re being direct in our communication and the final result will be better for both people in the conversation.
Another example of invisible communication is “What are you doing Friday night?” You wonder, Is she just curious? Does she want to invite me somewhere? Or maybe she wants me to help her with an assignment? What if she simply said, “I have an extra ticket for the concert on Friday night—would you like to come with me?” How easy is that to answer?
We all speak invisibly at times. When we catch ourselves doing it, we can remind ourselves to finish the sentence: “Do you have a minute to discuss . . . ?” Or, “What are you doing Friday night? I have concert tickets and I’m hoping you can join me.” When your intention is clear, people don’t feel trapped—and they feel comfortable responding to you.
Visible communication strengthens relationships
Visible communication makes your purpose clear. And when your intent is clear, the other person doesn’t feel as if they’re being manipulated. They feel safe and respected. And they feel comfortable responding to you. Instead of wondering what’s coming next, they’ll be able to give your direct communication a direct answer. Communication is flowing and easy, and helps build stronger relationships. Make your intention visible, make your purpose clear, and strengthen your relationships.
As you consider your communication skills, we encourage you to regularly review all five of the important topics covered in our Communication Series and urge you to remember . . .
“Communication is a skill that you can learn.
It’s like riding a bicycle or typing.
If you’re willing to work at it,
you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”
About the Contributor: Since 1982, SUPERCAMP, Monthly Mentor, has inspired and empowered thousands of teens to feel confident and motivated, and to excel in school and beyond. SuperCamp offers seven- and ten-day residential programs for students in middle school, high school, and first-year college. Living on a college campus is a great experience for pre-teens and teens and most of our grads go directly to a four-year college after high school. As teens from around the world gather at SuperCamp, they are inspired to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve, and they acquire learning and life skills that empower them to thrive in all areas of their life. Read More…
(See what some recent grads have to say about SuperCamp at www.supercamp.com/student-testimonials.)