How to be a Straight Shooter

Hi! My name is Dylan and I’m a Music Industry major paving my way to law school so that I can work with artists, labels, and firms to market and promote their ideas. I’m getting a minor in International Business and focusing my concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience. I have always been interested in just about everything that moves, which made choosing a career path very difficult, but after trying so many different things I started to look at what made me happy more than what kept me content. As cliché as it may be, my dream is to help as many people as possible create a reality from their dreams. The only thing I enjoy more than helping is proving that “impossible” is nothing more than a word.

How many times have you made plans with someone or a group of people only to have one or all of them cancel? Unfortunately, in today’s modern technological community we live such a fast-paced environment that it can very difficult make and adhere to plans. This frustrating situation is usually the core principle behind many tensions and arguments that build from a lack of communication.
I have been in many situations like this personally, and most often this kind of tension results from simply failing to communicate efficiently. Think of your audience as a “bulls-eye.” There is only so much that an audience can do to interpret a plan of action, so you must shoot straight to hit it where it counts. Whether the timing is off or the plan is just too vague, the fault of the miscommunication will always lay on the communicator rather than the audience. To put it simply, if you CAN communicate better, you SHOULD communicate better.
Studies show that mental stress is a direct result from the human brain trying to make sense of ambiguity. Robert Norton, of the Speech Communication Department, at the University of Michigan published an article that was entitled the Measurement of Ambiguity Tolerance. In this published journal of personality assessment, Norton defines ambiguity through eight degrees of the absence of communication. He ranked these definitions by total percentage of use within a controlled study at the University of Wisconsin’s Communications and Arts department.
Category Percent of Use
I Multiple Meanings 28%
II Vagueness/Fragmented 18%
III As a Probability 12%
IV Unstructured 10%
V Lack of Information 9%
VI Uncertainty 9%
VII Contradictions 8%
VIII Clarity 5%

It’s important to remember that making plans is no finite science, nor can you hope to use these definitions as ultimate tools for hammering down friends to force them into doing something. However, understanding that communication is most efficient when it is the least ambiguous is absolutely crucial to creating a successful plan of action.
For example, if you were to ask a bunch of friends in your iMessage group chat “Does anyone have plans later,” many would respond with an “idk” or “maybe.” If you had taken the initiative to ask the question with more specifics by adding a time, location, or plan of action then your friends would have much more finite information which would lead them to a much more finite decision.
College life is absolutely overwhelming with new environments, new people, new challenges, and new experiences. There is no need to pile on more frustration between you or your loved ones by letting stress and tension stem from a simple and fixable problem like a lack of communication. Knowing how to communicate efficiently will lead you down a path of happiness and success. Plus, taking the initiative to create plans transforms you from being one of a thousand followers into a leader of your peers. So what are you planning to do now?

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