Conversation BEFORE Marching Orders

Confusion-Illustration-250x300Clarity, Alignment, Focus…words that should be the hallmark of all communication. But unfortunately it isn’t. In many cases, not even close.

Instead we get confusion, misinformation, fuzziness…we leave our listeners scratching their heads, wondering what they are supposed to do, how to feel or what to make of what they just heard.

Often times it because we suffer from a communication arrogance, where we assume we know what our audience needs to know, rather then taking the time to see the issues from their perspective. Some times its the Curse of Knowledge, where we’ve been around the information so long, we can’t see it as new person does. We get frustrated when new people don’t “get it” rather then taking the time to listen…and learn.

Seth Goden wrote a great little piece called “Miscommunication” and points out that sometimes it’s the method of communication that hinders clarity.

“The challenge of communication isn’t to never miscommunicate, it’s to cut down the time between the interaction and the realization that the communication didn’t get through. Because the sooner we know we’re not connecting, the sooner we can fix it.

Phone calls, for example, lead to less miscommunication than instructions sent by mail. A cycle of clarity is built into the medium. “Huh?” is a perfectly appropriate way to ask someone to refine a message. Conversations are more clear than marching orders, because conversations have built-in error detection and correction.”

Conversation before Marching Orders. Most of us get it backwards! The dialog happens after the decision has already been made, rather than taking into account the perspective and needs of those we are trying to communicate with. When we do this, we often isolate, offend and alienate those we are trying to win over to our way of thinking. We spend time on what’s important to us, rather then what’s important to them.

How much better would it be to take a step back, have some clarifying conversations…then proceed.

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