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? Actor Adam Sandler has had his own communication breakdowns with his movie ‘The Ridiculous Six.’
This can happen purely by accident, but communication breakdowns can easily get out of hand and can sometimes become serious and cause problems.
To prevent them, it’s important to get your message across clearly and in a way which is understood by the receiver.
These 5 Top Tips will help you minimise misunderstandings in the workplace:-
Ever struggled to put into words what you think, feel or mean?
Ever misunderstood someone because you place different meanings on their words than they intended?
This is because language is quite personal – it reflects our own individual perception of the world.
“We see the world not as it is, but as we are” Stephen Covey
Although in any society, most words are universally understood, others have less defined meanings and can be interpreted differently, depending on the person, the speaker’s tone, or the circumstances.
2.Be aware of emotions
Our mood can easily affect the way we give AND receive information.
When we’re in a good mood, certain things said to us will be better received than if we were angry or upset.
When we’re feeling emotional, the logical (objective) side our brain gives way to the emotional (subjective). This can lead to all sorts of conclusions being drawn – that simply weren’t intended!
Similarly, if we are feeling emotional about one thing, but discussing another, our emotions may spill over and be taken out of context.
3.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 a good time for the other person.
If it’s important, then always check that “now is a good time.”
Technical words or jargon can 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 facilitate
Carry out NOT implement
Use NOT leverage
Using words that aren’t in everyone’s everyday vocabulary can lead to the other person ignoring the work altogether, making assumptions, or assigning the wrong meaning to them and so lead to misunderstandings.
Failure to check understanding through questions, observation and listening is a major factor in communication breakdown.
Never assume that just because you gave someone a piece of information or an instruction, that it has been received 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.
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