I just sent this out as a full Ramblings, and generally, I try not to do Ramblings and Ramblings Lite the same, but I thought this was worthy, so here it is.
Some years ago I read a quote that said, "A misunderstanding is the mark of a lazy communicator," and I took that puppy to heart, so I go a long way in the communication process to make sure that I'm understood, and to make sure I understand what people are saying, so we're all on the same wavelength.
As luck would have it, I experienced such a situation recently, and whenever that happens, I do one of those post game analysis things where they replay the game and put every move under the scrutiny of "the experts" to see what went wrong and where, and in doing so I was forced to re-examine the guidelines and assumptions I use for communicating (they say that introspection is good for the soul), and I thought perhaps you might find them worthy of thought, so... here ya go.
First of all, communication is a two-way process. Both parties gotta *want* to be there, and want to understand and want to communicate, or it's not communication. There are a number of names for it (wasted time, for instance) but "communication" is not one of them. Have you ever tried to talk to a teenager who didn't want to be there? HA! Was that communication? I think not! So that's rule #1 -- in my book.
Rule #3: Each party must want to understand what the other party is saying. I know that sounds suspiciously like something I said already, but it's not. Have you ever been in a conversation where one party was more interested in rebutting what the other party had to say than they were in hearing what was being said? Were you that party? In his book "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey says "seek first to understand, then be understood." It's another guiding principal for me -- try to understand where the other person is coming from so you know *their* experiences and references. My good friend Mitch Mitchell of TT Mitchell Consulting is probably one of the best I've ever known at being able to put himself in the other person's shoes and understand -- at an almost empathic level -- what they're feeling and saying. I'm not as good at it as he is, but I'm not bad; and I've relied on him over the years to help make sure I was in the proper frame on various situations. But you have to want to understand what the other person "means", and sometimes that goes beyond hearing just their words, and you can't do that if you're there waiting to "pounce." Seek first to understand, then be understood.
Rule #4: It is the speaker's responsibility to ensure that the message he or she is delivering is received properly by their intended audience (single person or group). Another guideline that I adopted, probably about the time I embraced that "lazy communicator" concept. This means I can't just "throw something out there" and expect people to understand what I mean. It is my responsibility to take sufficient care and provide enough background or reference information so that a normal person can understand where I'm coming from. Note: I didn't say they had to agree with it, just be able to understand it. I've seen many people throw out a concept or thought and expect their listeners to "figure it out." Well, "a misunderstanding is the mark of a lazy communicator."
If all this is in place, I believe your communication will succeed. But, ultimately each person in the communication process must take responsibility for their part, to make it work. It takes two to tango! But, what happens if, despite your best efforts, you just can't get on the same mental accord with the other person? Do your own post game analysis and make sure that your piece is in place. If you are convinced that you're not out to intentionally hurt the other person, that you really do want to understand, that you are in fact communicating as clearly and concisely and compassionately as you can and that you've done all you can to understand where they're coming from and understand their views... then... maybe you're not the one being the lazy communicator, and maybe it's just time to get off the field, and try to communicate another day.
And by the way... if in your analysis you find that you were wrong, by all means offer a prompt and sincere apology -- or two -- to the other party, try to re-frame and do better the next round.
That's my take on it! What do you think?