How do I make my communications clear?
We know what we want to say. But a common mistake that causes miscommunications is that we don’t use enough specific words so the other person can understand exactly what we are saying. Yet, we normally assume they do.
Six very common mistakes:
• Choosing very general words that can be taken many ways
• Leaving out details
• Showing disrespect for the other person’s feelings, time, & perspective
• Forgetting to add specific examples
• Summarizing your understanding of the communication.
• Sending mixed messages with your body language and tone of voice.
Try to incorporate these six communication hints to improve your communication skills: Add very specific terms, include details (place, time, dates, terms and amounts), show respect for other person, give explicit examples of what you mean, notice your body language so it conveys the correct message and then summarize the content of your conversation.
Examples of Miscommunication Mistakes and Ways to Improve:
Scenario #1: Husband calls home to tell wife about a stop after work:
Husband calls the wife to let her know that he is stopping by a friend’s house after work. Husband: “Hi Hon, I am going to stop by Jay’s house on the way home from work tonight but I won’t be late”. Miscommunication problem: Wife interprets “won’t be late” to mean he will only stop for a few minutes and be home around his usual time. Husband meant: he would be stopping at friends and will not be home really late at night like 11 pm or midnight. A total miscommunication. The misunderstanding could be solved by adding some additional details. Example (“I am going to stop by Jay’s house after work and plan to stay two to three hours. I should be home between 8 or 8:30 PM. If I am going to be later than that I will call you”). Note: the Details (2 to 3 hours), Specific Example (I should be home around 8 or 8:30 PM) and Respect (I will call you if it is going to be later than that). Summarize: Wife: “So after work, you will be going to Jay’s house until about 8:30 PM or call to let me know you are running late.”
Scenario #2: Friend calls with an Invitation.
Joe calls his friend John to invite him over for the 4th of July. John says, “I don’t have a calendar and I am going out of town for the weekend but if the 4th of July is on Monday (that is when businesses were going to be closed) then we are coming back Monday morning and can come over”. Joe says, “Great….see you for the 4th of July”. No one checks the calendar. The 4th of July is on Sunday”. John comes back Monday morning and calls Joe about coming over that night but Joe is very angry because John didn’t come the evening of July 4th. Miscommunication Tip: Do not make specific plans if you do not have all the specific details. One of these people should have said, “Let me check the calendar and make sure what day the 4th of July will land on and I will get back to you” This conversation was missing the Detail that the 4th of July would be on Sunday. Then John could have said,” I can’t make it Sunday for the 4th because we will be out-of-town but we could celebrate it with you on Monday night the 5th of July.” This conversation needed details and specific examples.
The six main methods of miscommunication prevention are:
Add very specific terms, include details (place, time, dates, terms, and amounts), show respect for the other person, give explicit examples of what you mean, notice your body language, so it conveys the correct message and then summarize the content of your conversation. With these new communication skills, your conversations should be clear, concise and easily understood by others. Check out www.supportivetalk.com to read more miscommunication stories.
If you would like to try a book on this subject, read Miscommunication by C. David Mortensen. For other similar articles by this author, check www.supportivetalk.com or read: Effective Communication