Ensure you communicate as well as you think you do

20th August 2013

A quick question to start the day…

      Two miners come out of a pit. One’s face is dirty; the other’s is clean. But the one with the clean face goes to wash his face, whereas the dirty one doesn’t. Why?

And the answer?

The clean one looks at the other man, sees a dirty face, so assumes his is too and washes. The dirty man sees a clean face, so doesn’t.

In other words, what we think about ourselves is often wrong.

It’s the same with communication. Most people think:

  1. They’re good at communicating
  2. Most communication in their company isn’t good

But these can’t both always be true. How can most people be good at communicating, when most communications aren’t good?

It’s all to do with the two I’s – your intention and impact.

When you communicate, you intend to come across a certain way. But your impact – how people perceive it – is often (always?) different.

This isn’t surprising. It’s hard to compare your view of your inside to others’ view of your outside.

The only solution is feedback. Ask people you trust for their views on how you impact others. And help them give useful feedback, by explaining your intention:

“I want people to think I’m thorough, but not too in-the-detail. What do you think about my approach? How would you suggest I improve?”

Feedback – both positive and negative – is a gift. It helps align your intention and impact.

But a quick word of warning: don’t give others unsolicited feedback about their communication style. When you do this, it’s more for your benefit than theirs.

Anyway, I’d better go. I’ve just seen someone with long hair, so I’d better go and brush mine.


Action point

Identify who you want to ask for feedback, and how you will ask them so they tell you things you can act on.

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