Lost In Translation 

It’s day one on your job and you’re excited to start. You’ve had your orientation with HR and you are introduced to your department. Your manager greets you and begins the run down on how to do your job. They are done talking, you go to your desk and you have no clue to what they told you to do.

Not to worry, it’s not you it’s them. George Bernard Shaw, a playwright was quoted saying, “The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished”. As a former manager I find this to be very true.

Communication only happens when the information which has been given by the sender has be understood by the receiver. When you are in leadership or supervisory, role it is your responsibility to make sure the receiver has decoded (comprehended) your message, information or instructions. This can be done by having them give you feedback (encoding) on what they’ve told or asked to do. If they can not do this, then the message was never communicated.

I had to learn this the hard way.  I was constantly frustrated with my staff not following through or delivering expected outcomes. I was able to correct this problem by asking my staff to tell me what they were asked to do. If they couldn’t, I would find a way to communicate it differently until they were able to tell me with comprehension.

Speaking the language of your staff, team or coworkers and allowing time for mental modes and jargon to be learned removes barriers to communication often experienced by new hires or new team members.

I learned a few lessons from this experience.

  1. Talking is NOT communication. Just because you ask for it to be done, it doesn’t mean it will be done right.
  2. No matter how big your vocabulary may be, it’s all lost in translation if who you are communicating with doesn’t speak your language. Lose the jargon!
  3. If there’s no feedback, you’re assuming you were understood. We all know what happens when we assume…
  4. Speak with the receiver in mind and how they interpret information and use the best channel to communicate to the receiver.
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