A while back I attended a seminar geared toward helping
us manage change better in our organizations. One of the many things worth
remembering from that day is a phrase from Larry Wilson:
The natural state of
communication is misunderstanding.
At first I didn’t understand what Larry meant. Lucky for
me he continued to explain. What he said was we typically misunderstand more of
what we hear than we actually understand. We might think we know what the other
person meant but often we don’t.
A friend of mine works at a manufacturer where the boss
let it be known he wanted every machine in the plant busy every day. So the
plant manager staffed every machine every day and ran them no matter how much
work they had. As a result they paid more in labor and other costs than if they
just ran the machines they needed based on the orders they had.
The boss meant he wanted enough orders coming in to keep the plant working at
full capacity. He meant that was his objective and he wanted people working
toward that objective.
The plant manager thought he meant every machine should be busy, regardless
of the amount of work available.
As we grow our businesses, we need to communicate with a lot of people.
Customers, employees, vendors and others all play an important role in our
success. And to work with them successfully we need to be able to communicate
So, remember Larry’s advice about communication. Remember that what you mean
and what you say are not necessarily what the other people hear. They could be
working from an entirely different meaning.
Take time to make sure you are communicating clearly with everyone no matter
how you communicate. Consider how and what you say before you say it. If you’re
writing something, read it aloud before sending it. And get confirmation from
the other person before moving on. Use specifics and be as tangible as
The better your communication is in your organization, the more success you
will have in every way.