If you are continually telling people over and over how to do the same thing, you are not communicating clearly and you need to read this.
Phenomenology, loosely defined, is the study of the perception of an object or occurrence. Or put another way, the study of the idea that there are two sides to every story.
What has been found over years of studying eye witness accounts gathered by Police is that people give very different accounts of the same occurrence. It’s amazing that two people can witness the same event and give quite different views of what happened. Police have to pick through the similarities to get the general idea of what ‘actually’ happened. And the differences have lead to those charged being acquitted because the ‘facts’ just didn’t add up.
The application to your business comes in relation to the understanding employees have of some instruction they have been asked to follow or task hey have been given to do. Have you ever had an employee say to you “I thought you meant …” and their thought on what you meant was very different to what you had intended
It relates to misunderstandings your clients have about what they thought was going to happen and what happened. It relates to the client’s story of an incident and your version of the same story.
It all comes down to understanding that we all have our own perception of events, we all have our own understanding of what words mean.
Does some of this sound familiar? One role you have as a leader is to communicate in such a way that it is clear the other person and you share the same understanding of what is intended for them to do.
Try this quick test: Ask each member of staff to draw a diamond. Have a look at what they drew. I’ll bet that they are not all the same (please email me and tell me the result, I’d like to see some of the different pictures too).
Tips for making sure you’re both on the same page.
- Have the person repeat back to you the instruction using her/his own words.
- When you have been told something you check in by saying “What I understand is that …”. You do this using your own words.
- Ask the question you think is stupid or so obvious it doesn’t need to get asked. This is often the part that leads to the misunderstanding.
- Break things down into small steps. This is how McDonalds get it right. The less room for thought, the less room for error.
- Write instructions down. Again, use clear logical steps.
- Draw a picture. Remember a picture is worth a 1000 thousand words.
- Remind everybody about Above and Below the Point. When sending the communication there is a responsibility to communicate clearly and to check that your communication has been understood (see the first tip). The questions, “Does that make sense?” or “Do you understand?” are useless questions. The person already understands in their own way.
When receiving a message there is a responsibility to check that what you think the other person meant is what the other person meant.
- Use common language. “Above and Below the Point” is jargon used within the ActionCOACH community. It is only understandable to people educated in its meaning. Get rid of the jargon if you are dealing with anyone that might not understand it.
Call me to discuss how I can help you with the communication issues in your business or personal life.