The Gist of Our Problems Is Bad Communication
By Dr. Kevin Orieux
One of the areas of workplace human dynamics that is the most expensive, is the lack of communication. I’m not talking about Spaniards who speak English as their second language having difficulties if they immigrate to a new country, nor am I talking about people speaking the same language but having accents that sound like a foreign tongue to others from a different regional location.
I’m talking about people not understanding each other, even though they speak the same language and are from the same region.
I think a good definition about avoiding bad communication is: Communication is a two-edge sword – the listener must listen to understand but the speaker must speak to be understood. Whether we speak or listen there is an action required of each party, therefore the responsibility to achieve good communication is bilateral.
A multi-faceted challenge in the workplace with respect to communication is the use of vocabulary. A college educated employee may use words a less educated co-worker doesn’t understand or a tech-savvy co-worker may use words that sound like Klingon to the technologically inept. If a person doesn’t know the definition of a word, such as inept, they are likely to gloss over that part of the communication and attempt to get the “gist” of the message, rather than asking the speaker to help them understand the definition of a word in which they are not yet familiar. For the listener to understand unfamiliar vocabulary, the speaker needs to spend the time so that the message can be fully understood.
When a lack of effort is made to understand one another, we fall into the Gist-Zone. This is where the listener thinks they understand, while the speaker thinks they’ve been understood, but all too often they are both wrong.
And this is where mistakes occur.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting different results.” The first order of business if we want our business to run in an orderly fashion, is to ensure that everyone in our workforce is taught how to communicate in a way that everyone can understand, and be understood.
Does it take time?
Does it require effort?
Is it expensive?
Acquiring good communication skills is never expensive – the only thing that is expensive is when our workforce tries to get by, by getting the gist of things.