Too often, we are only half listening to what people are saying. This is because we believe we know what the other person is going to say or because our mind is on something else.
Sometimes we think we understood, but don't clarify to find out if in fact we did heard it right.
- Ineffective listening
- Meaning in words
Some other things that cause mis-communication are:
We may not have developed our listening skills, which is considered one of the most important skills in business, yet is rarely taught in schools.
Our minds are often in the past or future, depending on what we have done or need to do. Other times we are guessing or assuming what they are going to say. Some people are even afraid of what the other person might
be saying and do not want to hear. Many times people only "listen" enough to respond.
Noises of all kinds get in our way. These distractions prevent us from hearing. They can be other people, telephones, radios, TVs and more. Many noises don’t make a sound. They are based on how we are feeling, our bias, knowledge, skill and background to name a few.
As well, when it comes to defining words, the first is the standard dictionary definition. However, many words have multiple meanings, especially in the English language where slang is prevalent.
Based on your own experience, the society you were raised in, whether English is your first language, any emotional issues associated with the word and the type of education you had will effect the definition of the word.
One of the biggest blocks is gate keeping. This is anything that your brain or unconscious self does not want to accept as true or relevant. We filter out most of what we are exposed to. If we were to see and notice everything at once, we would go crazy. So our brain’s RAS (Reticular Activating System), says, "Is this important or a danger?" If the answer is no, it filters it away.
The problem is we don’t realize what we are stopping at the gate. And the person you are trying to give a message to also has their own gate keeping system.
One must also be aware of their audience, the person with whom you are trying to communicate. If you are at a formal function and you are dressed relaxed or in jeans and a t-shirt, the people that you want to communicate with will be spending more time on thinking about how you are dressed over what you are saying.
The same applies with if you are trying to relate to the unemployed or street people and you are dressed in an expensive designer suit, they will have no interest in speaking with your or trusting you. Remember, your clothes communicate a message.
It is important to clarify that you and they have understood what was meant and even repeat this process until you know they understand.
Never the less, too often disasters happen because of mis-communication. It is up to you to do something about it. Remember, it can be as simply as asking to clairify
I know about an example when the supervisor, who while heading out for the night said,
"Don, turn off the suds machine" Don thought he heard,
"Don't turn off the suds machine", so he shrugged and thought, Ok and walked on.
Check out the results of this miss-communication at an airport hanger. Mis-Communication