When Communication Lets You Down

Do you ever feel like communicating should be easier than it is? What you want to say is so clear in your head, but when you try to communicate it the message just falls to the floor and your listener stares at you blankly. Even worse, it seems like great communication has happened, only to find out later the two of you were on a totally different page.

A manager shares what the outcome looks like as they delegate a task, but then the task is not completed as expected. The manager asks questions only to discover the two of them were talking a different language. It wasn’t that the team member just did their own thing, they actually heard something different than what was said.

A team spends the whole meeting discussing how to address a specific challenge and everybody in the room nods in agreement and gives a thumbs up to the decision. But, when they leave the room each team member starts doing things differently. When you talk to them about it you find out that everybody has a different understanding of what was decided and how they should act on it.

And it’s not just at work! A couple plans a vacation or a simple date night and both are filled with expectations for their time together. As the event unfolds, frustration grows because details were missed. The image of what the time together should be doesn’t measure up with reality. Attempts to adjust and get the time back on track get derailed by miscommunication and misunderstanding.

And the examples could continue in a variety of relationships where communication simply falls short. Expectations are not met, results are derailed, and relationships suffer.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw

Strengthening the foundations of communication in team, co-worker, family or friend relationships involves expanding our understanding of the different ways people take in information, notice what is important to them and process their decisions based on that information. Exploring our own unique approach to communication and recognizing different approaches can bridge gaps of communication.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessments offers a way to deepen understanding of personal preferences and explore ways to adapt communication to address the needs and preferences of others in the relationships that matter.

In this upcoming series of three blogs we are exploring preferences as they apply to our approach to communication with three goals in mind:

  1. Become more receptive to new insights and awareness about self and others
  2. Leverage our power to choose by responding with intentional communication
  3. Strengthen the foundations of communication with resilience in our pursuit of intentional communication despite the challenges

Transformation in our communication approach cannot be achieved by simply acquiring a new set of skills – sustainable transformation comes from a deeper place of knowing who you are and acquiring an appreciation for the differences of others. The skills we gain can be applied with intentionality and greater focus when they come from that deeper foundation built on receptivity to new awareness, responding with intentionality and reinforcing resilience with consistent use of new skills along with ongoing evaluation of results.


Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.

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