I remember a story my family often tells about my aunt when she was young and dating. One of her many suitors called and she didn’t want to talk to him. She tells her little brother (my uncle), in an attempt to avoid the guy, to say she’s “not here.” Being innocent to the dating game, her little brother grabs the phone tells the guy, “She said she’s not here,” a comic yet embarrassing scene of wordplay on a misunderstood message.
Communication is a two-way process. The message is sent then it’s received. But sometimes messages aren’t always relayed or decoded the way we intend for them to be.
Unclear communication leads to confusion. Yet, clearly in my uncle’s mind, he knew my aunt could have easily come to phone and talked to the poor guy. He wasn’t trying to blow her cover. He just told the truth by saying exactly what we she asked.
Now, imagine if my uncle had been your secretary or co-worker, taking a message for someone you were trying to avoid. That might have been a communication disaster that cost you a client or damaged a relationship.
Never assume someone knows what you’re talking about or understands the method of madness by which your message comes out through. Be detailed in your messages to others. Even ask them if they understand or have any questions. Sometimes we hear messages in one way when they actually have a whole other meaning.
What are some of the ways you try to practice effective communication?