Sometimes I am literally shocked at how communication between coworkers can breakdown and become total misunderstandings. Today at work we needed a certain piece of equipment for a patient and we did not have one in our storage room. When I asked why we did not have any in stock, the person in charge of this department told me that “I told them not to purchase any in that size because we did not use them often enough”. Now I had a hard time believing that I would tell them this because for the last 15 years that I have worked here we always had at least one in stock of each size.
But for whatever the reason was, this person heard either something different from what I thought I said or I made a mistake in what I said. So now what? Now we move forward and correct the mistake and gain a clear understanding for what we need. Yes, we could spend time arguing over what was said, but what is that really worth? It becomes a battle of who said what. Communication breakdowns do happen and if we spend more time trying to prove who heard what wrong we will be wasting time and company money. Agree to disagree and realize that these things happen and just correct the situation and move along. We all need to realize that we all are human and that we will say the wrong thing, misinterpret things wrong and at times have something totally different on our mind that we really do not hear or respond correctly. Okay, with that said how can we help from having these communication breakdowns? Here are three helpful ideas.
1. Ask the person to repeat what you have asked of them so that you can make sure that they fully understood what you said and what the expectation is.
2. If you hear a response that seems “strange” to you than what you expected, ask for clarification so that you know that you heard and understood correctly.
3. Write questions or responses down so that you have proof of what was said to you or what you said at the time, as we are very busy and sometimes we totally forget what transpired and do not remember exactly how conversations really went.
These three simple steps will help when a question arises about a situation and clarification is needed. But most of all remember that we all will be the cause of some sort of communication breakdown at one time or another, so go easy on each other when these things happen.
There is an enlightening video at this link that is worth watching.