Did you see Boris Johnson’s response to protesters after they hurled abuse at him at the Conservative conference calling him “Tory scum” as he entered the conference? 

Did you also hear the Mayor’s subsequent response to the abuse, where he says, “If they meant anything rude by that I think it is a comment on the fatuity and the paucity of Labour politics today.” Take a look at him in action. Priceless!


This being the case, have you ever had someone say something to you, only to find out later on that you misunderstood the meaning of what they were saying in the first place?

This can happen purely by accident, but communication breakdowns can easily get out of hand and can sometimes be serious and cause problems.

 To prevent breakdowns in business conversations, and so improve your business conversations, it’s important to get your message across clearly and in a way that is understood by the receiver.

Here are 5 Tips will help you minimise misunderstandings that lead to communication breakdowns in the workplace:-

1.Be specific

Using vague words such as “quickly” and “detailed” will mean different things to different people.

So give specific instructions whenever you can so that the other person knows exactly what you mean by these words.

For example, instead of saying I need it “as soon as you can” it might be better to say “I need it before my meeting at 3pm.”

2.Choose your timing!

Trying to discuss something important when someone is running late or preoccupied with something else is likely to lead to misunderstandings or forgetfulness.

Just because it suits you to provide a piece of information at a particular time, doesn’t mean it is good for the other person.

It’s important to always check out that “now is a good time.”

3.Use the right method

Choosing the wrong method of communication can easily lead to misinterpretation.

Select the methods that are most appropriate to the content of the message.

For example, choosing email may not be the best method for communicating sensitive or complex information – a telephone or face-to-face conversation may well be far more effective.

4.Be straightforward!

Technical jargon or words may be confusing – avoid using complex words when simple ones will do. Never use jargon or abbreviations unless you’re sure the other person understands them. Keep it simple:-

Helpful NOT Advantageous

Equal NOT Commensurate

Try NOT Endeavour

Wrong NOT Erroneous

Help NOT Implement

Use NOT Leverage

Using words that aren’t in everyone’s everyday vocabulary can lead to the other person ignoring the words altogether, making assumptions or assigning the wrong meaning to them and so lead to misunderstandings.

5.Check back

Failure to check understanding through questions, observation or listening is a major factor in communications breakdown.

Never assume that just because you gave someone a piece of information or an instruction, that it has been resolved in the way you intended, let alone understood.

Both parties have a responsibility to check that communication has been properly understood and this is best done by summarising and asking questions.

For more advice and tips, why not join our NEW “Building Positive Relationships” Virtual Open Course on Tuesday 13th October 2015, visit the following link for details and to register:-