Tag Archive for Misunderstandings

Avoid Misunderstandings at Work–Communicating with Confidence

Misunderstandings in the workplace are often the result of poor self-confidence. Confidence shows up first in your presence. In-other-words, your posture, the way you move, the way you stand and your energy.

What does all of this have to do with avoiding misunderstandings? The non-verbal message sent by slouchy shoulders, an unbalanced stance and a voice that lacks conviction can easily negate even the clearest verbal message…and that causes misunderstandings. Communicate like you mean it.

Consider the young manager who is not quite sure of herself as she attempts to give direction to her assistant. The request might be as simple as completing a report needed for a meeting. Her words might be clear  but her assistant might read her lack of confidence in her demeanor to mean…”if you have time to get it done.”

If you’re thinking this never happens, think again. The dog whisperer, Cesare Milan, tells dog owners that the conversation they are having in their in heads –positive or negative– translates to the energy a dog understands. The same thing occurs with humans, and no one knows this better than children. The mother who attempts to stop her child from an unwanted behavior by sweetly saying “no honey” in a voice that says  “I don’t really mean it” hardly gets the response she would like.

Communicating with confidence won’t eliminate all misunderstandings but it will help. What do you think?

For more communication tips pick up a copy of  Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work. You can get it by clicking the icon of the book on your right or at Amazon.con.

Communicating at Work–Check for Understanding

Communication means (according to my desktop dictionary) to transmit a message. Yes, there is a bit more elaboration but nothing that implies the checking for the understanding of said message.

Not good enough, I say. There are plenty of examples where transmitting a message suffices but even when a memo or message is posted in the workplace there is always someone that misinterprets or questions the message.

Posted message: ” The office will be closing Wednesday at 1:00 PM for the holiday.”

Question posted: “Does that mean for everyone?”

See what I mean, even the most direct message leaves a gap. So how can we expect the numerous conversations that take place daily to be interpreted as the sender intended? No easy task.

Let’s take a look at just a couple of things you can incorporate into your conversations to decrease the likelihood of misunderstandings.

1. Allow time for your message to be processed–avoid “bump and blurt” communications. You know the scenario where you run into your boss or coworker in the hallway and blab  your message as quickly as possible while still moving in the opposite direction. Really? You expect to be heard?

2. Ask for interpretation. This is the most difficult aspect of the exchange. The one question to never ask is…“do you understand?” Why? Because 99.9 percent of the time the answer is yes–when the reality is no. You can try the active or passive approach depending upon the situation and with whom you are speaking. Here are some approaches:

  • This casual approach takes on the burden of responsibility: “Wait…what did I just say?” Even though you know perfectly well what you said, this approach generally gets others to repeat at least of portion of what you said. And no, if you are making a request that requires action there is no guarantee it will be carried out as you expect.
  • A somewhat more direct approach allows for both processing and questioning, particularly useful after giving a long directive. “I’ve just given you a lot of detailed information.” Let’s review the first part again (you do) then you ask, “what questions do you have about this section?” This implies that there will be questions. Ask the question and then, you know…shut up. Most people don’t like to admit they are unclear about something so give them time to answer.
  • Another direct approach is simply to say, “I’m curious to know if we are on the same page, tell me how you heard what I requested? Often the intent is to get other people thinking the same way you do, forgetting that rarely do people think the same way you do!
  • Sometimes we fail to give enough information because we fail to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. If you request a project to be handled be sure to ask something like this…“what information have I failed to give you in order for this project to get completed on time?” (Make sure this is an open-ended question.)

Just in asking the question you might realize that you have not, in fact, given a time frame.  I’ve frequently asked audience members what time frame they put around this request…“as soon as you can get to it.” You’ll be shocked to know I heard everything from 15 minutes to a week!

Admins frequently are confused about prioritization–jumping on a task that didn’t need to be done first while ignoring more urgent projects. Both parties need to ask better questions.

These are just a few ways to check for understanding. Tell me what has worked for you by leaving a comment below.

You can find more information on this topic in my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it at Amazon.com today.

Communication Styles at Work–More Productivity with Less Misunderstanding

Learning to connect with all the communication styles in your workplace is the key to increased productivity.

Now I know you aren’t going to get along with everyone at every moment  and really, that’s a good thing.  Why? Because healthy conflict produces pearls (ask any clam!)

But let’s talk about those communication styles for a moment.  If you are familiar at all with communication styles then you have probably heard the them referred to as: Directors or Controllers, Amiables or Relators, Thinkers or Analyticals and Expressives or Sociables.

Even if you aren’t familiar the points below apply to everyone you interact with daily:

  • Respect the theme or driving principle for each style. Do they prefer to do things their way and quickly? Do they focus on accuracy at all costs? Do they prefer consensus before taking action? Or do they favor fun while getting things done? Go along with their theme while keeping your integrity intact.

  • Shift your style of communicating to meet theirs if you want to be heard. Bring your energy level up or tone it down and add detail or give the big picture depending on the style you’re communication with to increase your rapport.

  • To request action, to gather information communicate to each style’s preferred approach to work. Do they need the bottom line only or every last detail? Do they need cooperation and flexibility or do they want enough information to make a decision – not too much, not too little?

Support each style in the way they prefer saves you time, prevents misunderstandings and cultivates a cooperative workplace. Leave me your thoughts–what do you do to get along with others?

You can learn more about communication groups in my book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. Get it at Amazon.com. If you don’t need it get it as a gift for someone that can benefit from the message.

Are You a Time-Starved Communicator?

Even though we live in an age with more communication tools than ever (Facebook, email, Twitter, texting), we are not necessarily more connected with the people around us.

Many of us yearn to be more connected with our loved ones and friends. In addition, we long for more effective and efficient communication in the workplace. The amount of busyness in a person’s life can hinder their ability to communicate effectively–creating costly misunderstandings.

Here are some tips to help you if you are a time-starved communicator.

1. Make a list of the most important people in your life personally and professionally–and keep your priorities straight! Note which people you would like to connect with on a deeper level.

2. Next to each name make a note about the frequency and type of your currently communications. e.g. Boss: daily email status update and a 15 min. phone meeting once a week.

3. Notice how frequently your communication is face-to-face and how often it is electronic.  (This might an eye opener.)

4.  Now substitute one electronic communication with a face-to-face conversation. Get up and go to your boss with your update. Vow to speak with your kids for ten minutes before bedtime. Give your spouse 215-20 minutes of undivided attention nightly. If face-to-face is not an option then try a phone call over an email.

5. Be intentional about your communication–really consider how you could up level your connection with this person.

Ultimately, increasing your face-to-face communication will actually save you time by avoiding misunderstandings and  help create deeper relationships.

Get more tips on effective communication in my book Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up. (works at home too!) Buy it Amazon.com

Communicating with the Characters in Your Workplace

Communicating at work often resembles a sitcom where coworkers are characters and the story is driven by misunderstandings. Every sitcom from I Love Lucy to Seinfeld to Modern Family are great examples of misunderstandings resulting in humor and a tidy ending.

In reality, misunderstanding with the characters (I mean co-workers) you work with often doesn’t end with a happy conclusion. The good news is that your coworkers may be identifiable as the characters in a good story. Once you get to know them, you’ll be able to anticipate a certain amount of predictable behavior.  Think Seinfeld’s Kramer–you always expect his cockamamie logic to some mundane situation.

So how does this help you? Well, learning how to talk these character types (or communication styles) will help you get your point across more effectively so that cooperation and collaboration becomes the norm rather than the exception.

Ask these questions and notice these distinctions and shift your approach, and your chances of getting cooperation increases.

1. What motivates them?

2. What do they seek?

3. What do they fear?

4. What is important to them?

5. How do they behave under stress?

Create a game for yourself and see if you can created a profile of each of the people you work with and for–and then decide how you need to shift your behavior to connect with them.

What’s your experience?

This post is an excerpt from Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up.  Order your copy today and learn more about behavior styles.

Communication Tip – Turning Resistance into Cooperation

More Quick Tips from Misunderstood!: The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up (Volume 1)

Invitation for Communication

More quick tips from Misunderstood!: The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up (Volume 1)

Communication Begins Before You Start Speaking

Communication starts before you begin speaking. If you find that you’re frequently misunderstood then it’s time you take a look at yourself for the problem.

You must consider how your listener might be filtering your message. Is there a language barrier? If  your listener speaks a different language interpreting your message may lag behind the pace of your speaking.

Do you have different cultural backgrounds, religion, education or positions? These differences could color the way your message is received.

Is your listener emotionally stable or distracted by a physical ailment? He or she may find it difficult to focus on your conversation. Do you like each other? If not, everything you say may be heard in a negative light.

Practice observing your listener for signs of confusion. Check to see if your message will pass through the receiver’s filters and still be understood as you intended.  Be a responsible communicator to avoid misunderstandings.

From  my new book, Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say It and When to Shut Up — coming soon. Watch for it. In the meantime, get your FREE 6-part audio series, The Power of Effective Communication simply by entering your name and email in the box to your right.

Communication Tips from Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work

Workplace Communication – Giving Negative Feedback

When giving negative feedback keep in mind the type of feedback you are providing:

* Is it to find a solution to a disagreement?

* Is it directions or information to shift a project that is going off course?

* Is it to express dissatisfaction concerning work, behavior, or productivity?

Asking these questions and making the distinction helps you keep focused on the response and behavior you are seeking. It’s easy to get distracted or go off course especially when your listener starts defending his position.

Try it. Leave your comments.

*This tip comes from my forthcoming book, “Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say it and When to Shut-Up! Watch for it.