Sep 28, 2015

What You Communicated Wasn’t What You Meant – WYCWWYM


When the reaction you received wasn’t what you expected, check to see what you communicated.

The meaning of the communication is the response you get.

Those are words to live by. There are many times in our lives when we have the desire to communicate a specific message to another person and the reaction we received was totally unexpected. No doubt you can think of a few times in your personal and professional life when this has happened. No matter how much you would like to blame the other person(s) for not understanding, wouldn’t you agree that no matter what it is you meant to communicate, it’s over-ridden by the response you get? Let me illustrate how this happens:

In blog writing, there’s a format to write in called “Visual” or, by the more techie people, What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG). This means that how the pictures and writing looks before the blog is posted is how it will look to the readers. The placement of words and pictures will be how the writer is seeing them as they write. Sometimes, the WYSIWYG doesn’t work or the bloggers choose to write in “Text” mode. The pictures are placed in code, rather than as a picture; words that are to be in “Bold”, “Italics” or some other format are surrounded by coding which normally isn’t seen by the readers. “Text” mode isn’t pretty. It’s only made of letters and numbers where even colors are given a code to show only after publishing the post.

What we represent in our minds can be the same. What we formulate in our minds in the way of colors, people, words, sounds, and sensations appear to us in a way we believe is correct. However, when we present the information to others, it may appear totally different in the translation. Others can’t “see” the “coding” we are using to create the representations. So, what do they then do? They fill in the information with their own “coding”. They may or may not recreate the correct representations based on their model of the world and how it appears to them.

What can we do to prevent this from happening so that the response we get to our communications is the meaning we meant to send?

1) Go below the surface
So many times we speak at the surface level and forget there are deeper meanings and associations to what we are communicating. We use pronouns, like: he, she, they, and it when discussing persons or things which can cause a lack of clarity. I was in a conversation recently where one of the group used so many pronouns that I stopped them and asked them to clarify who and what they were talking about. It was as if their communication was in code. Be sure to do the same when responding to communication that seems even a little unclear.

2) Slow down to go faster
We believe that fast is fast in communication. Actually, fast is slow when communicating. Remember back to almost any time when there was a miscommunication and you’ll most likely find that it was caused by someone rushing the communication because they were in a hurry. It took exponentially more time to fix the results of the miscommunication than it would have if they had taken a few more minutes, even seconds, to ensure the proper understanding. So, slow down when communicating. It will make things go faster.

3) Intent
The more authentic and genuine the intent, the better the communication. In my communication course, Stealth Communication, I describe ways people either consciously, or unconsciously, use to manipulate people through communication. People who want others to draw conclusions other than the truth will purposely leave out specifics and open the door for interpretation of the listeners. They will make it seem like time is of the essence and speed is absolutely necessary for the desired result. Any person with proper intent will allow time for clarification, evaluation, and questions.

I would love to hear your stories of times when good communication took place and how that happened, along with times when miscommunication took place and how that happened, as well. So, please share!

Dr. Edward Lewellen is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.

Author of The 90-Second Mind Manager