Have you ever made a simple statement to someone, and the response back was: I don’t understand? Here is my example: I say the boss has asked me to paint the sky blue. OK, I don’t understand! I am now trying to figure out what is not understood. This person must know who the boss is, what it means to paint, and what the color blue is. So, I repeat it back slower. Same response back, I don’t understand. Well should I define paint, show this person a color sample, or what. This goes back and forth a few times before the person I am talking to says, I give up if you can’t explain it forget it.
I have seen this happen in business and relationships often. Both parties are left confused and frustrated. There were no communications by either side. My best guess is that the misunderstanding has little to do with the statement made and a lot to do with why the statement was made. It was never said by your audience what was not understood. If I made the statement, I assumed it was the statement that was not understood. Saying it slower or breaking it apart would not make any difference. So, what is going on?
The audience for my comment is trying to figure out the relevance of what I said. Was my statement related to what we were talking about? Did the statement have anything to do with me, or was it just information? Why does my audience care if my boss asked me to do anything? I have often witnessed statements being made that were just tossed out there. What if I added some relevant information to my statement? You may find this amusing; my boss asked me to paint the sky blue. Now my audience has more information.
The next time you start a conversation at work, add a little why to your what. I am on a tight schedule, could you put some paper in the printer.
Did you find some neat ideas in this blog? What are the exciting ideas you came up with, and how are you implementing them? Let me know by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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