After getting changed into his uniform one day, I asked my son to put his shoes on. Five minutes later I went into the hallway and found him with his trainers on. When questioned why, he stated that I hadn’t told him which shoes I wanted him to wear. Resisting the temptation to laugh I explained that it is a school day and he should know that I wanted him to put his school shoes on.
Should he have known though? When we are communicating with each other, if we are not as clear as we should be we often make presumptions that the other person has understood what we meant. This can result in mixed messages, instructions being misinterpreted and problems in simply “getting things done”.
In today’s society there are so many different ways in which we can communicate; face-to-face, email, telephone, tweeting, and facebook updates. A person I used to work closely with used to agonise over the content of emails and spend so much time ensuring that the wording was right so as to avoid issues. I could never understand this as I thought if you are spending so much time pondering then surely this is the wrong form of communication? Would it be more productive to telephone or speak face to face?
During my “communication skills” training I encourage delegates to use forms of communication that are efficient, produce wise results, and should aim to improve relationships and not damage them. Our emotional state, cultural background, experiences, education, and attitude can effect our ability to get our message across. Asking the right questions, actively listening, and ensuring that non-verbal messages match the verbal are all really important to communicate effectively.
Communications plays such a major role in our lives and it is difficult to discuss the importance of it in just one blog. It is hard to think of a single activity that we engage in that doesn’t involve communication in some way, shape or form. In our busy. media-fuelled world, we sometimes forget just how important communications are to our success, relationships, and, ultimately, happiness in life.
So, when was the last time your message was misinterpreted or you presumed that the other person had understood what you meant?