August 7, 2018 |

What You Said May Not Be What They Heard

Communication is such a funny thing.  When executed poorly, two people can walk away from a conversation with very different perceptions of what just happened.  I just experienced it today.

My Firm was negotiating an offer between client and candidate.  We had all the terms buttoned up and were awaiting the offer letter.  Upon receiving it, there was language included that gave my candidate some concern.  My first action in these situations is to go back and “replay the tapes” of what was said.  I speak to both client and candidate and get a download from each.  That’s when things occasionally get interesting.  What one party says doesn’t always equal what the other party heard.  I was able to identify the disconnect and get underneath the words…to the intent behind the language.  After probing, clarifying and getting to the real intentions on each side, it was apparent that everyone is on the same page all along.  We tweaked the offer language, and everybody was happy.

In life, this happens a gazillion times a day.  People communicate carelessly. It’s usually a result of haste.  We’re all in a hurry, and we take communication for granted.  It’s usually done without malice, and the communicators are often surprised when a disconnect is revealed.

What’s the antidote?  1) Putting effort and diligence into your communication.  Not in a burdensome, tedious way; by saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  Words matter.  2) Listening. Communication is a two-way street.  If you aren’t listening, you’re definitely going to screw up the communication.  3) Repeat things back to people.  Not in an annoying way; in a spirit of understanding and collaboration.  Make it clear that your goal is to be on the same page.  Start today.  Start with the smallest of interactions.  Then watch what happens.