WHAT Did You Say?

by Nancy Tetreaux

in Networking

There's an old joke about three men riding on a train. 

When the train pulls to a stop,  the first man looks out the window and says "Oh, this is Wembly." 

Looking over his newspaper, the second man says, "Really? I thought it was Thursday." 

The third man puts down his book and says, "I'm thirsty, too.  Let's go back to the club car and have a drink."

The joke may only rate a chuckle or two, but it illustrates a very important point: though there are people who can relate information and instructions with the precision and clarity of a drill sergeant,  many of us seem to rely on osmosis or mental telepathy to get across what we're trying to say.  Misinterpreting information can result in anything from "a little misunderstanding" between individuals to all out war between sovereign nations.

IF YOU ARE PROVIDING INFORMATION OR INSTRUCTIONS, be absolutely sure your message is being properly received.  Make sure you are providing sufficient details to get the results you want. Speak in plain language, and avoid phrases which may do more to cloud the message than clarify it.  Example:

WRONG:  "The cat is out of the bag on this downsizing thing.  Some yahoo doesn't know what  he's talking about.  Get your group together, and set them straight."

RIGHT:  "There is a rumor going around that the company is planning to close down your department and outsource the work to an independent contractor. This is not true.  The company has no such  plans. Please meet with your employees and assure them that your department will remain here, and their jobs are secure."

IF YOU ARE RECEIVING INFORMATION OR INSTRUCTIONS,  listen carefully, and make sure you understand what you are being told.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A DUMB QUESTION.  Some people are reluctant to ask questions for fear they will appear stupid or confused.  You are certainly not stupid, but you may be confused.  If you are part of a group, you can be sure other  members of the group are also confused,  particularly if  the information is incomplete,  or the speaker is inept.  Asking questions indicates that you are seeking clarification, because you want to respond to the information or instructions accurately.

Someone once said, speaking with clarity would solve half the world's problems.  You may not be able to do it alone, but doing your share would be a step in the right direction.



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