What you heard is not what I meant

Do you ever ask yourself, “How could that innocent comment to my spouse, child or co-worker have been so misunderstood that it leads to a negative situation that lasts for days, weeks or even years? Well, join the club we all have stories to tell about the conversation that started out well and ended so badly. It seems the art of communication is a dying skill that few take the time to consider. In the next few pages, if you will let go of some of your old ways of thinking, this little book can recharge relationships and change your life for the better.

When considering communication with co-workers, your family and others ultimately the goal is to get the most out of the words you use.

For this to happen we must consider three basic things:

  1. What is the problem with people?
  2. What is your communication style?
  3. How do you adapt to other people’s style?

It is important for you to understand that people hear only what they want to hear most of the time. To make this more challenging we all share the great misconception about communication . . . that it has been achieved simply by our verbally sharing instructions or perspective. We can easily be misunderstood or misleading unintentionally if we do not make the effort to meet others where they are mentally.

Consider this actual personal ad out of a local Atlanta newspaper. It reads as follows

Black female seeks male companionship.

Ethnicity unimportant, I’m a very good looking girl who likes to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping, and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire, candle light dinners will have me eating right out of your hand. When you get home from work, I’ll be wearing only what nature gave me, kiss me and I’m yours. Call (the phone number) and ask for Daisy.

What happened was over 15,000 men found themselves talking to the Atlanta Humane Society about an 8-week-old black Labrador Retriever. I am sure they were surprised when they discovered the truth.

Key Point – Things are not always as they seem (particularly when communicating with others).
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