Solving Common Miscommunication Challenges
Have you ever said something only to get an entirely unexpected response due to a miscommunication? Miscommunication is the misinterpretation of a message, and in the workplace where opinions and points of view can vary greatly, is almost inevitable.
Miscommunication can be blamed for a significant amount of conflict that occurs in the workplace, and it would be unrealistic to think it could be entirely prevented. However, with a better understanding of some of the causes and possible solutions, the chances of a miscommunication occurring could be greatly decreased.
Cause #1: Nonverbal Communication
There is a lot more to communication than just the words you say. Nonverbal cues, such as your facial expressions, body language, tone of voice and eye contact are just as important as the actual message itself – to some, even more so. These nonverbal cues are often misinterpreted, so it’s incredibly important to be aware of them as you relay your message.
Everyone has a different frame of reference that guides how they interpret nonverbal communication and it could vary day-to-day, depending on their mood, or their interpretation of your mood. Take the time to analyze and understand your own nonverbal cues so you can better manage them and more successfully relay messages as you intend them.
Cause #2: Making Assumptions
Have you ever heard the saying about making assumptions? Never assume anything; something you may feel is obvious and crystal clear may actually be confusing or even completely unknown to someone else.
Making assumptions is the most common cause of miscommunication in the workplace, which is why it’s critical to promote an environment of open communication where everyone feels welcome to ask questions and voice concerns.
Cause #3: Typing Errors
Typos happen, but you need to be aware of the potential confusion they can cause. Contradictory dates and times, incorrect links, and misspelled names will not only cause confusion and frustration, but might even offend someone – especially if you get their name wrong.
In addition to typos, be aware of autocorrect when using your phone for written communication – you never know what a word may have accidentally been changed to without you realizing it. Miscommunication from incorrectly written messages can be avoided by carefully double checking every detail before hitting send.
Cause #4: Accountability and Ownership
An essential function of every team is the understanding of individual roles and responsibilities, and holding each member accountable. If someone doesn’t understand their role, it’s easy to misunderstand who is responsible for what and paves the way for a lack of ownership.
Clearly communicate the responsibilities of each role each individual is in to avoid confusion and miscommunication about tasks and projects. This also allows each team member to take ownership of their role and hold themselves and other accountable.
If and when a miscommunication does happen, own up to it and seek to resolve it as quickly as possible. Resolving some miscommunications is as easy as a quick follow up with additional details or a simple correction. Other miscommunications require a bit more time, effort and understanding to resolve.
Regardless of your role at a company or within your team, miscommunication is bound to happen. Having a good understanding of the most common causes and how to avoid them will help you better navigate your communications and mitigate the risk of being misunderstood or misconstrued.