I really like this phrase, and once you have mastered English conversation well you can delve into the art of it. But how do you say what you mean, and mean what you say?
- Say what you mean: Sounds easy, huh? Saying what you mean is more than choosing your words and stating them. Words, after all, have at least three meanings: what you mean, what the listener thinks you mean, and the dictionary definition(s). Getting those first two meanings into alignment is the ultimate success of every speaker. One way to be clearer about saying what you mean is to think about your message from your listener’s perspective. Is the message crafted using words appropriate to the listener? You’d use different terms and jargon with someone skilled and experienced with a topic than with someone new to the information. It is up to the speaker to choose language that conveys the message and the meaning, rather than using language that makes the listener work to understand what’s being said.
- Mean what you say. In order to mean what you say, you have to be very firm and certain about what message you are trying to communicate. If your message sounds like your waffling about on a topic, and you’re not, you are unfairly misleading your listener. This is no time for passive aggressive communication, hinting about hoping someone will “get” what you really mean, or outright disingenuous messages (frequently referred to as “lies”). If you don’t mean it, best keep silent.
- Illustrate or demonstrate your message. Once you have said what you meant, and meant what you said, you can take one further step to enhance the understanding of your message. The simplest way to do this is with descriptive word and examples that clarify the message. Descriptive words are not necessarily big words, and they should be used to more succinctly craft your message, rather than used to show off your vocabulary. Think of the differences in a message using these terms: a drink, a cold drink, and an ice cold drink. See how the subtleties of the messages are made clearer by your choice of words. Using an example or illustration further clarifies your message, again preventing confusion and misunderstanding. Using the example from the last paragraph I could say: “I’d like something to drink, some cold water, in a large glass filled to the top with ice.”
While these three steps may seem awkward and difficult now, when you start working the concepts into every day communication, you’ll soon see how quickly your communications skills improve.
That’s right, communication is a skill, which means with practice comes improvement