Miscommunication happens when we fail to accurately convey what we mean by what we have said. It can happen when we make a statement and those around us immediately make assumptions about what we meant or why we said it.
The sun is ignorant of the clouds that obscure its light and of the fact that we then partly remain in the shadows of darkness.
I don’t have any studies to back me up, but based on my own observations, I’m willing to say it happens to each of us at least twice a day. Once, when someone else makes an incorrect assumption about something we have said, and again when we make an incorrect assumption about what someone else has said. That’s a lot of miscommunication. If we routinely made two wrong turns while driving in an area we know, we’d be alarmed for the condition of our minds.
The difference between having a conversation and driving is that when we drive, we know the exact location of our destination and we get plenty of feedback in the form of familiar landmarks to tell us how to get there. We can confirm we have arrived at our intended destination by reading posted signs. We only get that kind of feedback and confirmation in our conversations if we ask for it.
One thing I’ve noticed in working with people is that some always have an answer, even when it is clear they don’t know what they’re talking about. They’ve never become comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.”
We love to give answers. Sometimes we better serve others and ourselves when we are willing to say, “I don’t know.”
We all want answers because we hate ambiguity. We all want answers because answers give us a sense of control. When they are incomplete, or rooted in beliefs, not facts, answers can turn a good situation bad, and make a bad situation worse.
We do ourselves and those around us a tremendous favor when we become willing to say, “I don’t know,” instead of jumping to conclusions or insisting that we have an answer when at best we have only some of the facts or even, only our firmly held beliefs. Continue reading