Several years ago I wrote a post titled, “When Miscommunications Happen, ” and that post has gotten a lot of attention over the years. So, I thought I would write a follow-up post to update and elaborate on a few things related to miscommunication.
Common causes of miscommunication
- Assumptions. I still believe that assumptions, in general, are the most common cause of miscommunication. When you assume while communicating, you listen less carefully, leading to a lack of understanding. When someone starts communicating, don’t assume you know where they are headed, wait and find out.
- Not believing the best in people. I have blogged about this on my personal blog and still think that when you don’t believe the best in people it leads to many problems, miscommunication being primary among them. Believing the best in people means that you assume that they have good intentions and motives. As this relates to miscommunication, believing the best reduces the tendency to read an email as negative or get angry at that text. Believing the best allows you to see the other person as good until proven otherwise.
- Unclear email. I hate unclear emails because they communicate nothing. Emails without specifics or context are one of the most common causes of miscommunication in business. The solution is simple, pick up the phone or take more time crafting your message.
Issues miscommunication causes
- A breakdown in relationships. Miscommunication is one of the most common ways that relationships break down. I say one thing, you hear another (that I didn’t mean), and now we are in an argument. I have seen entire relationships dissolve because of this when a simple conversation could have saved it.
- Wasted time. Miscommunication wastes a lot of time. It may take time more time to listen well and to write that detailed email, but it’s worth it when compared to the time that miscommunication wastes.
- Misaligned priorities. When people are miscommunicating, they are on different pages and focused on different priorities.
How of stop miscommunication before it happens
- Slow down. Take the time to listen carefully or write carefully. Fully flesh out what you are trying to say.
- Repeat back. When someone tells you something, repeat back what you heard. They can confirm if you heard it right.
- Actively listen. Don’t do other things while trying to listen. Multi-tasking is a farce, don’t fall for it.
- Believe the best. If someone seems angry or upset, don’t jump to conclusions and make things worse, believe the best in them first.
- Talk. Don’t send a million emails back and forth when a 5-minute phone call can work things out.
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