COMMUNICATION. DO WE UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER?
I don’t just see the problem in my work as a triathlon coach, I notice it everywhere!
Do we speak the same language? Do you understand what I’m saying?
In other words: Do we understand each other?
Only when we understand each other can we communicate productively.
Now I bet that many think: Well, as many spelling mistakes as he makes and as funny as he speaks – it’s no wonder if you don’t understand him! But that’s not the point. Language plays a much smaller role than we think.
The question is whether we think similarly. Do we feel similar and what values do we have? What is actually said or written, and what filters are in between — both on the side of the “sender” and the “receiver”?
For example, what does “tired” mean?
For some, being tired means waking up twice the night before. Others use the word only after a training week of 30 hours and an additional 45-hour working week — they are, on the verge of a total collapse.
And what does “I don’t have time” mean?
For some, it means working from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. For the other, it might mean that he has to mow the lawn that day after he got out of work at 5 p.m.
A former customer of mine once gave the following example:
If you tell someone on the street that their hair is beautiful, it’s just a simple remark.
However, the person interprets this statement as he feels right now: Self-confident people may sure be happy about the compliment.
Someone with low self-esteem might conclude from the remark that his last haircut really wasn’t that great — and probably sees it as an insult.
I am certainly not someone who is known for choosing his words particularly gently and carefully.
Clear communication and clear announcements are always my goal. If someone messes up in training, I “whistle” at them and try to give very clear instructions.
But it’s not just the spoken word or the (mis)understood words that can cause irritation. Sometimes typos just happen.
If I make a mistake as a coach, the athlete should (normally) notice it. Questioning a training plan is not a breach of trust, it is more of a duty!
Because in the worst case, it can end like this:
I once asked a young athlete what his last competition was like. “Quite good, it was enough to win, but while running I still felt the competitive preload!”
“Huh…?” I ask. Thirty minutes of easy jogging and 4 x 200m at race pace with 1 ́ walking as a break should not be so hard?
But coach, in my trainingplan was 4 x 2000m, said the young man, and added: OK boss, next time I´ll ask!