When communication fails, I can’t help but be discouraged. I am a communicator. I believe in open, honest, and timely communication. When communication breaks down personally or professionally, I over analyze the crap out of it.
In my experiences communication typically breaks down for one of two reasons; misinterpretation and opposing viewpoints. Communication is like a dance, you have to flow, and pause, and continue with many other things in mind; the context, your partner, and the objective of being engaged in the event/activity.
Avoiding misinterpretation is achievable by everyone. First you need to be timely, when communication via email or text most quickly gets out of line is when there is a lag in the response for asking and answering questions. This is where a mole statement becomes a mountain to climb. For people initiating the communication, indicate the who, what, when, why and how of information pertinent to the conversation, and don’t assume that the reader of your message receives this information as you intend. For receivers of messages, when you are not sure, ask to be sure. Keep the dance going, be in step with the music, and flow and break when needed. Common understanding of the context and purpose of the communication helps everyone engage in the dance more effectively.
On the other hand, consistency in viewpoints and consensus is not always generally achievable. Because uniqueness is ever present and people do not always agree, on all issues, all of the time, consideration has to be made on when to toss in the towel if common acceptance is not possible. So I think acceptance is the biggest hurdle to combat the second cause of miscommunication. People just have to accept that people are different; they have different needs and different approaches. Dancing and communication are all about give and take. You have to offer and you have to accept. You also have to be willing to adjust when needed. Because people align their views, actions and behaviors based on their values, so with communication it’s impossible to find consensus on all matters, all of the time. Acceptance should be the goal when the viewpoints involved in the communication vary greatly.
Another factor in avoiding miscommunication is asking yourself what to do when facing a dilemma or dispute is why is the communication breakdown occurring? Does everyone involved know the who what when why and how, is this situation arising because of misinformation, misunderstanding, or just a difference of world view points?
Sometimes the best strategy is avoidance, sometimes its acceptance (even if it’s only you accepting) and sometimes you have to assert yourself in a situation. When communication fails, its ultimately where things start getting tossed around, where emotions are high and where considerations have to be made. Do your best to mitigate these situations as best you can by simply understanding the situation and determining what’s the ultimate goal of the communication, how can emotive responses be defused and how can you resolve the misunderstanding, if that’s possible.
I personally can’t allow these conundrums to continue to affect me so much in the future. It’s counterproductive towards my ultimate life goals which are driven in effective use of what I have My time and mind space is limited. Not allowing ineffective and negative communication consumes me is a positive step in the right direction for me. It just sucks up my time, and depletes my emotional reserves.
The best advice I have to offer as a communications professional and person with life experience is to understand your situation, decide if clear communication or resolution of miscommunication is at all possible and, if not, make the most of bad situation by asserting yourself. Don’t allow people to crap communicate to you. Block what’s bad by only absorbing what’s good, insert hip moving and shaking here.