What You Said Vs. What You Meant
I hope you are enjoying the start of the holiday season! This particular holiday is pretty low key for our household, compared to when I fly home to Ohio for Christmas. However, something I have enjoyed this holiday was time with the hubby. Therefore, a conversation he and I had while having our morning brew together today has sparked this weeks blog.
Kenny (the hubby) was sharing a story about his work. He and a colleague were working through a process/systems conversation and there was a miscommunication that caused a bit of tension. The response of his colleague to something he disagreed with was, “that is what I said, but it’s not what I meant.” - Well in work, our colleagues hear what we say. And a phrase I use often when working with teams is, “Words matter.”
What Are Communication Mistakes?
We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it!” This quote exemplifies just how complex communication truly is because while sometimes, the problem is what you said, it could also be how, when, where, or to whom you’ve said it.
Some of the most common communication mistakes in the workplace include:
information overload (overwhelming someone with too much information, too many details, and not enough clarity),
excessive jargon (relying on industry terms or acronyms to explain something to someone who may not be completely up to speed),
dishonesty or exaggeration (bending the truth - or even lying - in order to put pressure on someone or a situation)
inconsistency (not leveraging a consistent communication style, mood, tone, or structure when providing feedback or direction, causing confusion and stress for the recipient).
While this isn’t an exhaustive list - it doesn’t include misspeaking, inconsiderate comments, etc. - it might give you a better idea of how you might be miscommunicating with your colleagues.
How to Handle and Fix Communication Mistakes
Awareness is half the battle, right? Which is why it’s so important to be aware of your communication style and habits, and adjust them as needed to prioritize clarity, consistency, and kindness throughout conversations and collaboration.
But if you’re suddenly realizing that your communication style might require some serious work to avoid creating confusion, stress, or frustration for the people you work with, you might want to clear the air by directly acknowledging your communication errors.
You can do this by reaching out to your team(s) or working with them on an individual basis to acknowledge that your previous methods of communication were…er…lacking, and let them know what you’re doing to improve communication in the future. This would also be a great opportunity to ask your colleagues how they’d like to receive communication from you, what areas of your previous communication styles were most jarring, etc.
It’s a little bit funny that fixing communication mistakes requires, well, more communication. But if you continue to approach the situations with authenticity, honesty, and directness, you’ll be able to rebuild trust among your teams and lead with clear communication.