THE BLOG

Say What You Mean & Mean What You Say

Oct 31, 2013 | Updated Dec 31, 2013

It is really quite simple: say what you mean and mean what you say. If I had a nickel for every time I uttered these words to my clients, my children as they were growing up and the TV or computer as they were spewing forth "spin" I would be sitting in Hawaii right now wondering whether my next drink should be a Pina Colada or a Banana Daiquiri.

Now let me be perfectly clear. I am writing this blog not as a Democrat, not as a Republican nor as an Independent or a Tea Party-er (or as the member of any other political entity one may be affiliated with). Rather I am writing this blog as a relationship and communication expert who has spent decades showing executives, companies, entrepreneurs and individuals how to effectively communicate so that the whole uproar we are witnessing now about the roll out of Obamacare doesn't happen in their companies, their business and their personal lives.

As a parent, how many times have we said to our kids: "That is not what you told me!" Or we've said to our partner in the middle of a heated exchange: "That might be what you meant but that's not what you said." Or the frustration we felt by a boss who said one thing only to later on tell us something else -- which essentially nullified countless hours of work. All of these situations and the negative emotions they created are all the unintended by-product of ineffective communication.

When a message is miscommunicated in business it often comes with a price tag, which may be high or low. The cost might be a lost contract, a missed sales projection or a lower than expected bonus. On a individual level, many careers have been sidelined, not due to poor performance or lack of ability but rather to inappropriate communications in all its genres: electronic, face-to-face, etc.

In our professional and personal relationships, how many times have we said to ourselves: "Damn, I wished I hadn't just said that"? But we did and now we have to face the music.

Unfortunately, in the real world, the consequences for not saying what you mean and meaning what you say are endless. Adults can't ask for a "do-over" like we did when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. Poor communication, which also includes lack of communication, (Think: "I wish you told me that?") can wreak havoc on one's credibility, with his lack of trust probably being the most serious consequence of ineffective communication.

Whether you miscommunicated a business initiative to your team or you and your spouse got your signals crossed on who was going to pick up the kids from basketball practice, poor communication often creates unnecessary distress. Feelings get hurt, people feel betrayed and a breakdown of trust ensues.

In the final analysis, isn't it just easier to say what you mean and mean what you say, and let the chips fall where they may!