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Yes, But What Are You Really Saying?

More and more I hear people misunderstanding what someone else has said to them, especially when it came through a memo or email. This can lead to a great deal of turmoil at work and affect morale.

You see, when we are standing in front of a person, we pay more attention to body language and tone then we do to the words they are saying. However, when we are reading a note or short message, especially ones written in a hurry, we tend to misunderstand what the other person was trying to tell us.

I have seen situations where a person really believed the other person was angry or upset with them, only to find out later, they weren't.
This is one reason that I say to people, "CLARIFY". If you are not sure, than ask.

I also state to supervisors and management, to ensure that people are not afraid of asking. I have seen some huge disasters created by people who were to afraid to clarify and took a guess instead.
For supervisors who say that they don't always have time to answer questions, then it is important to have something in place that can keep the lines of communication open.
It could be:
Another person that assists
A manual of most commonly asked questions
A place they could leave you a memo that you can get to

Whatever method you choose, keeping the lines of communication open is easier than fixing disasters afterwards.

A collection of headlines that I received shows an example of how, what the person meant to say, isn't quite how it ended up. Here are some of them for you to see.
The comments underneath are mine.

Some Of The Worst News Headlines

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
(It's a good thing Jets don't crash when things are going right)

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
(This is probably a little harsh)

Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
(Talk about cramped quarters}

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
(That was very noble of him)

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
(Imagine them wanting to rest in peace)

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
(I guess they wanted to speed things up)

Stolen Painting Found by Tree
(My what an intelligent tree, I wonder if it had to go far)

Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years at Checkout Counter
(And I thought my grocery store had long line ups)

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
(I guess there is a degree of truth to that)

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
(Don't think I will drive across that one)

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
(My, they have tall doctors)

New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
(Then I don't want it)

Even though we can laugh at these headlines, I wanted to show, where we could have one meaning, only to have it interpreted at another.

When people come to us for clarity, it can be a wonderful thing that you may be grateful for in the end.

Just keep in mind, the more important your message is, the more important it is to ask yourself, "Could this be interpreted at a different level?

All the Best!
Maria Boomhower
The Master Communicator
"Command Attention & Confidence"
Master Communicator Blog
P.S. If you like what you're reading in this newsletter, you'll love the book,
"Overcoming Barriers to Communication"
It's an interactive manual that takes you through the steps to help you overcome
challenges in communicating and connecting with others.
Overcoming Barriers to Communciation

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