Successful Communication

• Dan is sure Steve has taken advantage of Bernie.

• Steve believes he has done a creative and responsible job of estimating costs.

• Bernie still has no idea Dan doesn’t know about the modified $7,500 cost.

• Dan is sure these actions were deliberate and intended to challenge his authority.

An argument is inevitable, one that will likely include finger-pointing, accusations, and regretted statements. However, one sentence can change all this, and I think Bernie will say it. “Dan, I neglected to tell you that the original software package cost has been modified down to $7,500, so I allowed Steve the $2,500 re-appropriation to buy the software peripherals because it’s now a better product and still within budget.”

With that sentence all of the potential frustration and anger dissipate. Unfortunately, every person in this scenario has injected preconceived notions, and everyone is on a collision course. Such a simple answer to a seemingly complicated problem.

Emphasis Is Everything

I have seen lately that this type of misunderstanding occurs more often with the increased use of email and text messaging. These forms of communication lack the kind of conjecture and emotion that allow people to be clear in what they are presenting.

As we enter this new age of business and personal communication, let’s be sure to keep in mind a simple screening process to minimize confusion:

• What am I trying to accomplish from this assignment?

• Who is affected and therefore should be kept in the loop?

• Where does this assignment fit in with the company mission?

• When are the deadlines and other deadlines that may be affected?

• How is this assignment supposed to look when it is complete? Do I have a vision of it?

This short list may save countless hours of having to “re-do” procedures.

An attendee at the seminar introduced a perfect example to demonstrate the problem of confusing communication. Read the following sentence multiple times. Put the emphasis on a different word each time, and see how it changes the entire meaning of the sentence.

“I didn’t say he stole it.”

Pretty interesting, isn’t it. I knew that was what you were thinking … well, I assumed.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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Related posts:

  1. Destined To Lead
  2. Simple Pleasures
  3. Take Time To Teach
  4. Communication
  5. Causing An Effect

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