“Sorry, I misconstrued your miscommunication”

“Sorry, I misconstrued your miscommunication”

The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished” – George Bernard Shaw

Ever experienced a situation with your peers or clients that caused someone anxiety, or where an issue blew way out of proportion? I have one rule for communicating sensitive or negative messages…

Never…

raise…

an…

issue…

via…

email…

Unless, of course, you enjoy conflict and drama and you have the time to follow an issue beyond where it ever needed to go.

Sensitive discussions and information are best delivered in person. The written word – be it in email or letter, cannot convey tone, and in the absence of your facial gestures, or at the least, your tone of voice, people can apply their own emotions and preconceived ideas as an overlay on your words, which can have the affect of totally changing the meaning – or their reception of your comments.

When you want to explain something that may not be palateable, or you want to confront someone with something you’re unhappy about, be that someone your client, your staff, or even your spouse, while it might be an easy copout to send an email, it’s usually far more effective to pick up the phone, or discuss it in person.

While you might fear confrontation, you can at least ensure that your whole message is conveyed, and if they misunderstand the point you’re trying to make, you have half a chance of rephrasing or elaborating on your concern, to increase the likelihood that they really hear your issue.

An intentional by-product of this rule is that when you listen to the response provided, you might just find that your understanding of the situation is in fact distorted, and the issue can be put to bed with relative ease and in a short space of time. The same issue discussed in an email may either grow to unnecessary proportions or cause additional damage as it creates further issues with the exchange that follows.

Of course this strategy also relies on your ability to listen to the response you receive, and interpret the body language and facial expression of the person you’re talking to, in order to recognise when they misunderstand the intent of what you’re trying to say. And this particular ability doesn’t apply only to situations where you’re raising a negative issue.

My only regret about my wedding day is that my Dad didn’t deliver the speech he wanted to. Two nights before the wedding, when I was staying at my folks’ place, I told Dad that I wanted to swap the speeches at the reception, and could he do the Toast to Absent Friends? (failing to add the words, “instead of the toast to the bridesmaids” ). I didn’t understand why he got miffed at me – Dad is a great public speaker and I’ve never known him to be shy of saying a few words. The last minute stress muted the alarm bells that would have otherwise gone off in my head, as I didn’t realise that he thought I meant “instead of doing your speech”.

Cut to the reception, and Dad managed to add one anecdote to the toast to absent friends, and by the time I realised he wasn’t going to do his actual speech about how I was a fabulous daughter and Boris had better look after me blah blah blah, he was headed back to his seat and our MC had moved the proceedings on. I still get sad about it to this day, and I’m so glad that he at least wrote out his speech for me and gave it to me later. But it is the most painful lesson I have ever learned about the absolute necessity to listen to how people respond to what you’re saying, in order to understand if they are really hearing what you’re wanting to say.

When you look at the availability for CPD and even the curriculum content to become a financial planner, communication is one of the most underrated, and yet tremendously important skills for any financial planner.

If you’re in Perth and you’re looking to improve your communication skills, check out thecommunicationcourse.com. I’ll be taking part in this course myself in November and will write about my experience once I’ve done it.

I have heard good things about this course and it’s run by someone I rate highly. Once I have first hand experience I will let you know more. If you’re not in Perth check it out anyway – I’m pretty sure they run the courses Nationally upon request.

Sue

Sue Viskovic
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Sue Viskovic is the founder and Managing Director of Elixir Consulting, based in Perth, read more about Sue at https://elixirconsulting.com.au/about-us/sue-viskovic/