I have a confession. I’m really good at miscommunication. It’s an art form actually, something I’ve practiced quite a bit over the years. No matter how clear I think I’ve made a message, I’m often reminded how easily it can get lost in translation somewhere along the line. Can you relate? When we miscommunicate to others, we run the risk of sabotaging our relationships, sinking our vision, and spoiling our reputation. Miscommunication can be powerful, just not in the way we want it to be.

Here are some common causes of miscommunication:

  • Assumptions. You know what assuming does right? It makes an @$$ out of you and me. The moment we think we know what’s going on is the moment we should seek to clarify.
  • Hasty communication. Have you been bit by the autocorrect bug? I know I have! Hasty communication is equal to thoughtlessness because the majority of the time it happens is when we are either in a hurry or don’t care enough to make sure our message is crystal clear.
  • Email/Text. Never, EVER communicate potentially emotional messages through email or text. It never goes well. Trust me. If you need to communicate a thought or issue and you are unsure of how it will be received, you should at least pick up the phone if not handle the conversation in person. A significant portion of human interaction is done through non-verbal forms, such as body language and voice tone/inflection. Oh, one more thing. Emojis are fun and all, but are not a substitute  for your physical expressions!
  • Misunderstanding. I believe misunderstanding is very difficult to foresee because you can’t predict how the other person is going to interpret your message. It’s further complicated by people who are afraid to admit their lack of understanding. Take the time to ask open ended question to encourage discussion on the topic.
  • Lack of listening. The art of listening is lost on our world today. Everyone wants to be heard but few want to listen. Active listening asks questions and restates what’s been said to ensure the intended message is understood.

Each of theses causes have plagued me continuously over the years. I’ve learned ways to overcome them, but the moment I think I have conquered one, another rears its ugly head. Let’s face it. Miscommunication will always be something we struggle with because we are imperfect people interacting with other imperfect people. As we understand the causes and know how to look for them, we can grow in our ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

Where on this list are you found guilty?

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