"I know you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure that you realise that what you heard is not what I mean't""
Technology has transformed the way people work and has undoubtedly many benefits. However one of the biggest problems faced by organisations today is the way people communicate (or not communicate) with each other.
Here are 10 reasons why communication can be misinterpreted. Are you guilty or not guilty? I know I can be.....
1. Not communicating enough. If people don't receive sufficient information (including attention paid to persuading the person to gain their commitment) it's little wonder that something goes wrong. They make assumptions or second guess the gaps. Sometimes they're right; often they are wrong.
2. Over-communication, with the effect that the receiver stops listening e.g. we tell people in detail 'what we have to do to give them what they want'. But all they need is 'what can you do for me, by when'.
3. Wrong tone e.g. saying "I'm sorry to hear that" but sounding as if you don't mean it. In other words, insincerity.
4. Wrong words such as abbreviations or technical jargon. Receivers have to spend time thinking what it means and so miss out on what is being said next.
5. Poor listening. The receiver has their mind on other things so they don't really listen to what they are being told or the sender doesn't capture their attention in the first place.
6. Communication method. Experts say that written communication is good for information and confirmation but not good for emotion and discussion. Little wonder that if words are placed in bold or CAPITAL LETTERS in emails, receivers understand it as shouting!
7. Poor preparation. How many times do we walk away from communication interactions thinking: "I wish I hadn't said that" or "I didn't mean it the way it came out".
8. Talking too fast. Stresses from multi-tasking and work pressure can have an impact on the speed at which we communicate. Senders who talk too quickly can be seen as railroading the receiver and not listening.
9. Inappropriate body language such as reduced eye contact, not facing the receiver and reading messages on mobiles during conversations can affect the way the receiver takes on board the message. The recipient deserves full attention.
10. Not ensuring understanding. Too often we tell people without really checking that they've understood the message. Not just the message itself, but its importance and consequence. Emailing 20 people a message is not the same as saying 'they understand the message'!
Think of the 10 miscommunication reasons when approaching a conversation or meeting and how you can avoid the problems.
On the other hand you can do it the 'Woody Allen way':
"The most important thing in life is sincerity. If you can fake that, you have it made"
Woody Allen (Film Director and Actor)