Avoiding Frustration with the 4 Rules of Communication

Published on 2014-02-27

Source: GS+ @ Flickr SOME PEOPLE JUST GET EASILY FRUSTRATED. These ‘highly strung’, ‘tense’, or so called ‘uptight’ individuals might appear, from first glance to be difficult to work with, but the reality is that their unique skill-set is an asset. [quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Love them or hate them, they are a necessary part of a healthy team, or larger organisation.[/quote] Under the Belbin Team Roles model, these individuals fall into the roles of ‘Monitor/Evaluator’ or ‘Completer/Finisher’. They have a logical eye, make impartial judgement and  ensure work is scrutinised for errors. Love them or hate them, they are a necessary part of a healthy team, or larger organisation. However, that doesn’t mean that they are void of responsibility in communicating more effectively with those around them. Rather, they must try harder to be understood and understand others. And that is why they must know the four rules to be efficient communicators.
Rule #1 – “Never underestimate the capacity of an individual to misunderstand”
People go through life with different ‘filters’. Filters include language and  beliefs, among other influences. You might think that your email was perfectly clear, that your verbal explanation of a seemingly simple process was straight to the point, that every step had been repeated, and repeated, and repeated, and repeated… that only a under-developed 6 month old wouldn’t get your meaning, but…someone will misunderstand. [quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]Likewise, our beliefs limit what is possible.[/quote] That is because of those filters.
For example, an American talking to a Brit might use the expression to ‘luck out’. “Yesterday, I lucked out at work”, says the American. To the Brit, this is bad news. “Oh, I am sorry to hear that,” says the Brit. The American looks confused, because ‘to luck out’ is good, in their ‘version’ of English. Likewise, our beliefs limit what is possible. In high Power-Distance cultures, like China, there is a belief that you can not criticise your boss. Only top-down feedback is acceptable. In northern Europe, Australia and the USA, bottom-up feedback is not only acceptable, it is openly encouraged. If you are asking for feedback, but receiving none, don’t blame your English grammar, question whether ‘beliefs’ are affecting the message. So, if you are being misunderstood don’t just pound your head against the wall, rather treat this as a learning opportunity and change your approach.
Rule #2 – “Everyone has their own preferred communication preferences”
Let’s face it – everyone communicates in different ways. You might prefer sending emails, or making phone calls, or SMSing a short one-liner, but that comes second to the communication preference of the receiver. Your email might qualify as literary genius, but if it gets filed in the ‘read later’ box, or worse, then it is useless. Pick up the phone or arrange a face-to-face meeting – even if that’s something you dread.
Rule #3 – “Don’t assume! Because it makes an ASS out of U and ME!”
An ‘assumption’ is the belief that you understand based upon a previous experience. It is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without the need for proof. Assumptions are used to deal with reality, that is, life. If we didn’t use assumptions, then we’d be analysing massive amounts of incoming data, and wasting both time and energy – an evolutionary ‘no-no’.[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]But as you get older, and more experienced, your assumptions let you handle more complex tasks…[/quote] This is how children see the world. Since they know nothing, everything is new. But as you get older, and more experienced, your assumptions let you handle more complex tasks, but with the increase risk of an incorrect conclusion. No doubt you have heard the old expression: “Don’t assume! Because it makes an ASS out of U and ME.” Therefore, don’t assume – verify!
Rule #4 – “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong”
So, you’ve integrated the previous three rules. Everything is cool and you consider yourself as a master communicator. Alas, you’ve forgot about Murphy’s Law. This is a mindset to accept that things will, eventually, go pear-shaped. You will determine and implement your own personal communication plan, perfect in every way, but, in many cases, things will not go as planned. So, know, verify, deal, and mitigate if possible.   So now, it’s up to you to pass this article onto your ‘uptight’ colleagues. And if Murphy’s Law prevails, and nothing changes, be sure to enroll them into the next Communications Skills course and let a ClarkMorgan expert fix the situation.