I find it difficult to express an idea effectively. When I put my thoughts into sentences, it becomes very complex and people get bored.

For example, recently, when my colleagues and I having coffee, the topic of bringing up children came up.

I knew one of the colleague's parents brought her up being brave, by making her do those things she was reluctant to do. In India, (sorry, but it's a fact) girls are not brought up to be brave, like that. It's unusual to do what her parent did. But I was appreciative about how her parents bring her up and when I mentioned it, everybody, including the girl herself, thought that I was teasing her.

I had to stop everyone (kind of) to make the air clear, that I actually complemented her parents.

Later, she was able to explain things very clearly, unlike me :(.

So, how to clearly express an idea in a group without confusing listeners??

  • 2
    It would help tremendously if you can provide an example. Take your time to write it down, but if you could provide us with an example of what you said, what you actually wanted to say, and how people around you reacted, that would help tremendously. Also, a location tag and some more information on the people your talking you would help (do they have the same education level/age group as you?)
    – Tinkeringbell
    Dec 26, 2017 at 10:59
  • "But I was appreciative about how her parents did it and when I mentioned it, everybody, including the girl herself, thought that I was teasing her." What exactly did you say? It's hard to suggest an improvement or point out mistakes, if we don't know that. Dec 27, 2017 at 10:12
  • I thought your question was perfectly clear before, even though you didn't give the exact words you said. Now it is less clear if anything. Previously you said you were being taken as 'teasing' and not sincere; now you are saying that you are making things overly complex and confusing people. Can you please attempt to cite some of the words spoken and describe the reaction? Also your refined question is no good - you can confuse people for lots of reasons. Talking about science to 3 year olds would confuse.
    – Astralbee
    Dec 27, 2017 at 13:01

2 Answers 2


It sounds like your point on this occasion became overly complex because you tried to adjust what you said to please a crowd of people, likely all giving you different reactions, mixed signals.

When you speak to an individual you adjust your words and your tone in 'real time' as you see the expression on their face change. They can also see your facial expression which will reflect that you are being sincere. A huge percentage of communication is non-verbal. When you speak to a group your tone is different than when communicating one-to-one. You speak louder to be heard by more people. You look around the group so instead of gauging just one reaction you are seeing lots of different reactions. Perhaps this is why your sincere compliment came across incorrectly? The colleague you were speaking about may also have been influenced in her reaction by the reaction of others - they were in a way telling her that she had been insulted, but she may not necessarily have thought that herself.

Perhaps reserve this kind of personal observation for private conversations in future. If you need to put things right with the colleague who was the subject of your compliment, do so casually and in a one-to-one conversation. Perhaps say:

I just wanted to say that my comment the other day about the way your parents raised you was a sincere compliment. I am sorry that I raised it in front of the group like that, it came across wrong.

Hope this helps.


I think I understand what you mean, though an example would be helpful. I had a colleague who would tell me something like 'Oh, you are such a clever lady' and I would immediately assume he's being sarcastic because nobody else talks like that. I mean, if I do a great work, I would expect 'Great job!' and not 'You are clever', it's an odd way of saying things.

If you are saying something similar like 'Wow, lucky you', it might be taken as a jest. You should probably say something like 'Your parents seem to be wonderful people, you are lucky'.

I'm assuming you face this problem only with English and not with our local languages. But even otherwise, you will have to focus on your way of talking and learn from every experience.

Think for a minute on what you want to say before plunging into a conversation. Once your thoughts are clear, you can frame proper sentences in your mind and then join in. Try to avoid long sentences, pause whenever you need time to regroup.This will slow down your speech a bit but as you participate in more conversations, you'd be able to express yourself more clearly.

  • I have problem with local language also. When I read your reply, I remember one of my teachers advice to talk slow so that I wont stammer. According to him my thought process is fast, but thought to verbal transformation is not keeping up. I think its better for me to talk slow !
    – DooDU
    Dec 27, 2017 at 12:41

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