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Difficulty expressing your thoughts verbally? communication
Old 03-23-2009, 01:03 PM   #1
Antagonist
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I don't know about all of you, but I've always had trouble with this. I can form an argument perfectly in my head, with a clear path from points A to B to C, but when I try to express myself verbally I can't seem to find the right words to clearly present my argument. It's strange because I have no problem presenting a clear written argument but when it comes to speaking I sometimes find myself stumbling over words, forgetting what I want to say, etc. In school, I was almost always one of the top students and the teacher would often refer others to me for help, but when it came to explaining my thought process I'd just end up confusing them even more. Does this often happen to anybody else?
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:39 PM   #2
raharu
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I wish I could say I relate... but I can't really. Except for initial introversion and shyness, I'm great with talking to people and very articulate. Many people are surprised because of how quiet I usually am, and exclaim that I'm an "expert explainer"
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Every once in awhile I'll find this particular idea or argument could be better represented graphically or pictorially, in which case I won't hesitate to ask for a pen
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:43 PM   #3
redbaren
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I experience the same thing. I can see a thought, or picture in my head of some thing vividly. But when it comes to describing the thought, or picture I just can't.
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:46 PM   #4
Brian
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Still fairly young? I used to have a horrible time but with practice I worked my way through a lot of the troubles. Is the writing easier for you because you either have more time to think about it or maybe have have anxiety problems when speaking to people?
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:40 PM   #5
doublejava
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I struggle with this myself, and I do A LOT of public speaking! When I know a topic really well, I usually do okay. Sometimes when I'm having an off day, I've had audience members rescue me and help explain something I'm struggling with! Just another one of those things that helps keep me humble. I've been told I do horribly in job interviews, though, because I do have difficulty expressing creative examples of my experiences on the spot. But if I'm relaxed with the person I'm conversing with and I know my stuff, I have few problems. Practice, practice, practice I suppose.
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Old 03-23-2009, 02:57 PM   #6
tp6626
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I have this a bit as well. At an interview a couple of weeks ago, the interviewer was asking me some technical questions, and although they were tricky when you're put on the spot with something new like that, I felt in my head that I could have a good stab at them.

He'd asked me about the required number of grounding points on some piece of machinery, and I knew it was two, and said it was two. He said I was right and asked me to explain why it was two. I knew exactly why in my head, but just stuttered to answer him clearly. He then said, why not 3, or 4, and I still struggled to get the words out my mouth. I just started speaking, and was thinking all the time, this isn't the right direction to be answering in - it's leading me away from the issue.

I don't know what happened. Given 30 seconds to put the answer down on paper, I'd have been able to give a very accurate and concise answer. But spoken, I do feel under pressure and struggle a little.

The answer was that more grounding points were redundant; two was the minimum required to 'locate' or 'fix' the load, and by introducing more you introduce the problem of distributing the loads evenly over all the fixings. To get this right adds complexity and cost, and accepting that you may not get this right would require you to oversize all the fixings in case of uneven loading. So you end up with, say, 4 huge expensive fixings, when 2 huge expensive fixings would have sufficed.

I just couldn't seem to find the words there in front of the guy. I think he could see that I knew though. I did tell him a few times that I recognise that I have areas that I could improve, and that was one of the reasons I was applying to his company, because of its reputation for developing people.

Anyway, what I usually do when people seem to be struggling, is to reassure them that there is no rush, and to take their time to get it right.

I should take my own advice really shouldn't I?
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:42 PM   #7
Silence181
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I can't tell you how many times I have lost an argument because I could not get the thoughts out of my head fast enough or with as much clarity as they are in my head. The problem is that my thoughts are lighting fast and a lot of the explanation process in my head is lost or forgotten or just unnoticed. I don't jump to conclusions, but all the steps I took to get to the conclusion get lost somewhere along the way.

It doesn't help that all the people I usually have arguments with are the type to belt out the same irrational half baked point at a million miles an hour over and over again.
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:10 PM   #8
Nomadofthehills
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Yes.
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:15 PM   #9
Prunesquallor
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It really depends on who I'm talking to. My internal logic isn't always clear, but people who think similar to me tend to understand what I'm saying. Most other project all kinds of crazy interpretations and I have to rephrase my point eighteen times, and then give up.
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Old 03-23-2009, 04:45 PM   #10
jp624
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I have this problem when I'm talking to people I'm not too familiar with. I am more verbally fluid when I'm completely comfortable. I'm not comfortable around most people I don't know, so that severely restricts my capability to express myself in any way.

My mind will sometimes go completely blank and it is humiliating.
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Old 03-23-2009, 05:06 PM   #11
llBradll
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I used to have that problem more often a while ago. I might still have it and subconsciously avoid people who aren't so great at picking things up, though.

When there are multiple steps in something I might lose somebody by skipping a step I think is obvious too.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:19 PM   #12
Brittle
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Oh yeah! I have this problem quite often... in my mind I'll come up with some very eloquent, intelligent, well constructed point, but often I'll get half-way through verbally expressing it and forget the rest. Or I'll there'll be a word or turn of phrase I want to use which sums things up beautifully, but I can't for the life of me think of it at the time and end up stumbling around sounding like a moron (argh!).

Now if I have time to think about and prepare what I want to say, then generally I don't have too much trouble - but if I'm flying off the cuff it's another story altogether. That's probably why I spend so much time going through various arguments in my head, so should they come up in conversation I'm a little more prepared.
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Old 03-23-2009, 11:26 PM   #13
sgn
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The conversation make perfect sense and flow logically with close friends and family. I have a difficult time expressing myself with strangers even though I am familar with the subject being discussed.
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Old 03-24-2009, 12:48 AM   #14
The Calamity
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And here I was thinking that I was unique among the INTJs for not being able to describe my thoughts clearly.

In most cases, I can clearly make a speech or talk with a larger amount of people. I tend to... change myself and my thought process before I do so.

But when it comes to describing, I usually end up having the other person give up since I tend to make it sound much more complex then it really is. That's what it seems like in my algebra and chemistry classes at least.
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:19 AM   #15
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The way I learn things is by building it off of other things I already know, and noting what the differences are. I relate things that I'm learning to what I already know, so in my head, I end up with a big web of topics. The more connections from one topic to others, the better I know it.

Well, explaining things is the hard part. Because this is the way I remember things, its the easiest way to explain things for me. Especially with math, I can usually just say "foo is like bar for blah", or "its just the (thing), except for (topic)".

I guess everyone I've tried this on doesn't get what I'm trying to say, so it ends up confusing them, and I usually have to say "forget everything I've said, lets start over". I don't quite know how most peoples mind works, so its hard to explain it in their terms.
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Old 03-24-2009, 04:15 AM   #16
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Sometimes, yes. Its very annoying, i think is because a quick thinking.
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Old 03-24-2009, 04:44 AM   #17
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I run into this problem mostly when talking about non-concrete issues where there is no definitive answer. There are so many things I think about in my head that have no exact expressions in language or that I have built my own vocabulary of words and metaphors to describe that expressing these ideas to othersin a concise manner is very difficult . For some ideas it seems like I have to spend more time explaining my definitions than I do my argument which is usually a bad sign.

Ex. I run into this when I am describing certain people and their characteristics/personality to others. Yesterday we had a very very odd customer walk into the store but they were off in both obvious and subtle ways. For the life of me I could not pin down exactly what was wrong with them which is rare. They were just a person who set off warning bells in my head. When I tried to describe exactly what was odd about the person to a coworker it was difficult because I have my own internal vocabulary for explaining people and it does not translate well to speech or writing. (Even this explanation comes up short lol)
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Old 03-24-2009, 05:54 PM   #18
Subhuman
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  Originally Posted by Brittle
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Oh yeah! I have this problem quite often... in my mind I'll come up with some very eloquent, intelligent, well constructed point, but often I'll get half-way through verbally expressing it and forget the rest. Or I'll there'll be a word or turn of phrase I want to use which sums things up beautifully, but I can't for the life of me think of it at the time and end up stumbling around sounding like a moron (argh!).

This is so bad for me that I consider it my defining characteristic. I think in ideas, and to a lesser degree pictures, instead of words so I'll have trouble explaining my thoughts. I've read people at the some other forum saying they'll have trouble speaking but are able to perfectly explain themselves in writing, but I'm bad at both and perhaps worse at explaining myself in writing.

It's the strangest thing because I'll be speaking and then suddenly one little word will escape me. I look like a fool. I've had people, including friends, family and teachers, completely just walk away from me because I'll stumble for so long. On internet forums, I'll have something I want to say and spend so long coming up with utter crap, so I'll just close the page without submitting.

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Old 03-24-2009, 06:29 PM   #19
Ted
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Yes, I get that too. Sometimes I stutter in a speech very similar to the way Bush does. What's worse is that I usually think in thoughts, and then convert it into words. Finally, I just have to say these words that I already have in my mind but I still occasionally fail to do so.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:37 PM   #20
IfThenElse
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Yes, but it depends on the situation and the people I talk to. I often underestimate what I really want to say, and often I don't come to the actual ideas I want to talk about. I think different than most people and some know I'm different, but I have a (strong) suspicion they haven't a faintest idea what I really think. That I'm already years aware of the MBTI types could be a real shocker to some of them, for example. But back to the original question: it depends on the people: to some hard-boiled people I have trouble to express myself, because I know that if I can't express myself good, they will assume I don't understand it: to some sensers is understand something is as to be able to explain it. But that's not the intuitives idea of understanding: to them understanding is explaining the concepts, and the specific words and structure of explaining the ideas may change, but to them it's the same ideas.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:57 PM   #21
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It seems to get better with age. Philosophy has helped me, especially because you are often required to make your case / criticisms in front of the class.

My formal writing is often excellent, and many of my teachers have noted this. Though, when it comes to verbal expression, I'm certainly less gifted. Part of the issue is that I like time to think something over in order to truly consider someone's point, which is often not allowed for in a verbal argument. I quite often concede point in verbal arguments, only to think about it later and realize it was completely bogus.
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:30 PM   #22
Plane Stress
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Me too. I hate it because it makes me look dumber than I think I am. I am much better with written things, but even then sometimes I can't quite formulate it the way I'd like to.
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Old 03-24-2009, 08:32 PM   #23
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  Originally Posted by dogwoodlover
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It seems to get better with age.

Really..? I think mine seems to get getting worse with age
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Hmmmm..... maybe it early on-set Alzheimers
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Old 03-27-2009, 06:48 PM   #24
Iago
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Yep, I can relate to this!

I can easily marshal convincing arguments in my mind but then can't articulate them as well as I want.

I also find that I can't do small talk well, it gets banal and boring. It's really hard to stay present in the conversation, without letting my mind drift off to other places.

So for me the answer is preparation, if I know that I'm going into a meeting where a strong debate will occur, and that I will have to think on my feet, then I mind map my thoughts, to give me structure and reference points that I can come back to during the discussion.

so you're not on your own.
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Old 03-27-2009, 10:31 PM   #25
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Yep the problem for me is with getting too involved and painstaking about backing points up. Brevity but still carrying the message with enough meaty bits to sustain interest and acceptance of the argument is the skill. Message thrust gets diluted with too much detail / tangenting.

I have invented a technique to rectify it. I go for concentrating on the middle ground view (either after or before pitching a brief wider overview of where your argument or presentation fits in the scheme of the subject area).

Many will have no trouble grasping the panorama as most have a general knowledge base. And I now only go into detailed explanations of important finer points if people question or doubt a key middle view statement. Checking they are following the line you are developing (may depend on opinion or prior knowledge or misconceptions) helps identify if there's a need to quickly elaborate / back up a middle distance view statement that has them dubious or confused (after which they may tune out if not addressed).

And I agree with the above about mindmapping & main points. I'll often use 5 memorised or written key words that can start and trigger a (planned) sentence or two about a needed component of my presentation. Its impt to understand connections between key points and let them naturally run on.
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