“Well, it’s really no use our talking in the way we have been doing if the words we use mean something different to each of us…and nothing.” – Malcolm Bradbury
Effective communication is the building block of a productive dialogue between two or more individuals anywhere in the world and that gone awry can be an incredibly painful experience. If you have ever faced a situation where the other person could not fully understand what you meant or maybe you could not express the message in the way you wanted, you know how it feels. Communication gone wrong can have extreme impacts on business goals and your achievements.
What causes miscommunication?
In any conversation, the two involved parties are perhaps familiar with each other or not. When communicating, sometimes it slips the mind that the message may be interpreted differently by the listener. What may seem obvious to be understood may not be so. Clarity in communication sets the ground for a long and fruitful business relationship and hence must be dealt with utmost care and attention. There are multiple reasons leading to miscommunication and failed conversations. Here are three of the most common causes:
1. Non-verbal cues- Lack of synonymy between your body language and your verbal communication can cause misinterpretation of the message. Facial expressions and tone of voice are the focus areas here.
2. Ineffective communication between management and employees- An organisation failing to proactively disseminate information and commence engaging dialogues among the employees and the management may face hurdles in building a great culture.
3. Assumptions- Making assumptions while receiving or sending a message ultimately leads to miscommunication. Things may not be as you may assume.
How can miscommunication harm you?
Personal and professional relationships can both be harmed tremendously with miscommunication creeping in between. Being aware of your tone and demeanour while you convey a message is extremely significant. Here are some ways miscommunication can harm you and the organization:
1. Stress through discords- Discords and conflicts are the obvious by products of miscommunication. Missed deadlines, misinformation, negative feelings towards co-workers are only a few consequences causing higher stress levels.
2. Low motivation levels- The job that you were so motivated and excited about at one point may seem like a stressful and unwanted task. The major reason for this might be the constant struggle to get the right information, run behind false deadlines and face conflicts.
3. Low quality of work- Miscommunication can lead to warped facts as well as a negative feeling towards work harming you as well as your organisation. This discourages productive work and induces hurried, stress infused and low quality outcome.
4. Unhappy clients- Incomplete work, extended deadlines and under-delivered promises, all lead to unhappy clients. You know exactly why is it bad for business.
How can you avoid miscommunication?
Now since you know the causes of miscommunication, you might be wondering how to get out of such situations. Here are four ways of doing it:
1. Communicate your expectations- Let the listener know what are they supposed to do with your conveyed message and their role in it. While explaining a new project, tell the team members what is expected from each of them so they are clear with their responsibilities.
2. Be clear and precise- Communicate the details and the goals clearly and precisely. Do not clutter the message with unnecessary details.
3. Body language- While conversing with anyone, make sure that your body language is aligned with what you are trying to say. If your expressions or hand gestures do not resonate with the message, there is a high chance that it will lead to confusion as well as negative feelings.
4. Ask for a repetition- When you instruct somebody, instead of asking them if they follow, ask them to summarise their understanding or how they plan to go about it. This will confirm whether the listener has understood the message clearly.
A friendly and supportive culture is imperative for an organisation to ensure happy and productive employees. Miscommunication causes a huge gap in that culture and leads to dissatisfied employees and disgruntled clients. Keep miscommunication at bay to promote a better work culture and build a great business.
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