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Are you talking my language?

Do you ever walk away from a conversation thinking "they clearly didn't understand me"? Or perhaps a conflict situation arises, which turns out to be caused by misinterpretation, or missed meaning?

At times, it can feel like we aren't speaking the same language, and it can lead to a number of difficult situations both at work and at home.

One of the common problems that we see in work place communication, is the problem of assumption and interpretation. We tend to think that we have decided what to say, said it, and so now the other person should understand the meaning and intent of our message - we've assumed that we have communicated our thoughts clearly and that they have been interpreted accurately, but it's often not the case.

It's common to put the responsibility for understanding our message correctly onto the recipient. If they didn't understand it, then that's their issue to sort out - right? No - wrong! It's a pretty arrogant position to assume that we are communicating faultlessly, but the other person is failing, especially if what we believe that what we have to say is important. You may well believe that you have been totally clear, but if your message has not landed well, it's your responsibility to put it right - it's something you've missed or mis-communicated.

During my NLP training, we were taught the principle that the meaning of your communication is the response that you get. I think that this is a very helpful standpoint to embrace as a people manager or people leader - it helps us to develop a curious mind and a tenacious approach to supporting others - it helps us to learn to ask ourselves "How else could I express this?" or "What do I need to change to help this person to understand?".

Taking responsibility for the messages that we send out is a powerful position, it gives us an opportunity to make sure that we are communicating in a way that is working for the other person, it gives us the gift of being understood. This also leads to a supportive environment, where it's ok to ask a question or to admit that you don't understand something. You'll be seen as more approachable.

So, if you're faced with a situation this week where you seem to be speaking a different language, step up and take responsibility, ask yourself how you can deliver your message with more clarity or in a way that helps the recipient - after all, it's good to be understood.


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