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ProTip: Fixing a Communication Breakdown

Michelle Nitchie / Jul 11, 2017 9:04:00 AM

Failed Communication.pngOne of the most effective approaches is to take full responsibility for the lack of communication.  After all, it may well be that your question was unclear.  Why not give the other person the benefit of the doubt?  You might confess you don't remember whether she gave you the information you needed...or acknowledge that you may not have grasped her explanation.  Unless the person is being evasive, she'll be glad to comply.

- Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, Ph.D., and Wendy Patrick Mazzarella, Reading People

Communication is an incredibly meaty topic (in fact, it's the 5th most common topic for our blog), and there are so many methods and strategies and concepts you can try when something in your communication has gone awry that it can be nearly impossible to know where to start.  That's what makes the suggestion from Dimitrius and Mazzarella so useful to us.  The power is in the simplicity: you don't have to follow a list of steps, you don't need to spend a lot of time evaluating the situation, you just decide to take responsibility for the communication breakdown whether or not you believe you are actually responsible.  

Yes, you might feel like you lost a little bit of face in doing so or that the other person "got away with" poor communication, but being able to get past the issue and move on quickly and cleanly is usually more than worth it. And if the issue is part of an ongoing problem, say between you and a coworker, you can always find a time to positively address the underlying communication issues later, as you'll be back on neutral ground then and more likely to be able to see eye-to-eye. 


Topics: Problem Resolution, Teamwork, Communication, Etiquette, Difficult Situations

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