How often have you heard someone say something like, “He wasn’t clear in his request” or, “She’s not a good listener”? I hear these excuses quite often. When I am teaching Conscious Business skills, I am invariably asked “How do we use these skills with others who are not?” Whether giving or receiving communication, you are 100% responsible for its outcome. I know what you are thinking; communication is a two-way street and I agree. But you can only be responsible for your own communication abilities. Your success depends on how well you receive and send information. If you don’t understand what a client is asking for and you deliver a bad outcome because of the miscommunication, it’s your neck. You can only guarantee your own success when you take 100% responsibility.
Let’s reframe the situation. Begin by realizing that the listener’s ability to do what you need is dependent on how well you get your message across. You are successful when you know your listener has heard what you intended. There are strategies you can use to make sure your intent matches your impact:
o Ask what she thinks to see if she’s on the same page.
o Use clarifying questions frequently.
o Adjust your communication to your audience. I would not explain a new policy to my children in the same manner as I would to a coworker. Usually, we communicate in the way that feels most comfortable to us, not our audience.
You must also be committed to understanding what the communicator intended you to hear. Here are a few ways to overcome someone else’s poor communication.
o Ask more questions. Tell him you aren’t sure you understood completely and repeat your understanding of the request or message.
o Take responsibility for the confusion. Say, “I want to get this right for you, so let me go through what I understand. Please tell me what I am missing.”
o Write down bullet points and then go through them together to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
These suggestions can be effective because you take responsibility for the way you like to receive the information, not making an attack on the way it’s given.
Taking 100% responsibility is difficult. After all, you don’t want to appear as if you are not up for the job. You want to appear competent and ready to act. However, the cold hard fact is that you will not appear competent or deliver an appropriate outcome unless you take responsibility for the entire communication. Only then does effective execution happen.