Don't be selfish with your communication


Have you ever known someone that couldn't explain a concept to others?

They probably knew it backwards and forwards, but when they start talking and it sounds like they have their own private language.

This is an example selfish communication - not that it's done intentionally! - but it's important to be aware that how we share ideas is as important as what the ideas are.

I really like the term "selfish communication". It makes a critical point about the words we use and when. 

The truth is, we've all communicated selfishly at some point. It happens most often when you know a topic so well that you forget that others aren't as up-to-speed as you are. 

Talking to someone who neglects to take that giant step back can feel a lot like opening a long book in the middle - you've missed so much of the story that you're completely lost. 

How do you ensure your communication isn't "selfish"? 

The first step is opening the book on the first page. Set a foundation and then start building the structure of your ideas and information from there. Keep these four tips in mind:

Be audience-focused.

Put yourself in your audience's shoes. Would you understand what you're sharing with them? Unless you know differently, assume people don't know what you know.

Avoid jargon.

Industry-specific terms and acronyms could leave your audience cross-eyed and head spinning. It might sound impressive to your colleagues but your colleagues probably aren't the people you're trying to reach. 

Write conversationally.

Social media is meant to be a two-way conversation. Using this style makes it easier to take a step back and give context and critical details to topics you have expertise in. 

Ask for input.

Ask someone you trust to read your content and give you their honest feedback. 

Selfish communication isn't an overt act. It just happens out of habit. The people we work and collaborate with usually know the background. So, it's easy to forget that we need to start at the beginning with others. 

These are simple steps you can use to make sure your content speak to your audience on the right level about any topic.