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Communication - Shades of Grey

I couldn't resist using that title ... but you might be disappointed to learn this blog entry does not have the same racy content as the book with a similar name!

My topic today focuses on the fact that we human beings are all different ... yet so often we assume "the other person" is thinking the same way that we are.

I might talk to a prospective donor about a generous charitable donation ... the person I am talking to nods their head in complete agreement, she is thinking $500 and I am thinking $5,000!

In a discussion between parents of different children, one might suggest that their child is in bed early every night ... the other nods and agrees, their child is in bed early too. The one child might be in bed at 8pm, the other 10pm.

A manager might suggest en employee needs to show a better sense of urgency with their reports ... the employee agrees, thinking they will have the report done by the third business day while the manager thinks its going to be done two days earlier.

These are small differences at the end of the day but they illustrate the point that when talking "expectations" it is important that the discussions have enough "meat" that everyone is on the same page.

We need to recognise that just because we said "it", that does not mean they heard "it"!

Can you imagine a "special ops" team executing an attack on an enemy with one group thinking "we go on a count of 3" and the other "we go on command". Three seconds disparity can cost lives.

A classic "disconnect" comes with large technology projects ... "scope" is the word used to describe what the supplier considers included in the price, yet all too often the buyer's "scope" differs.

The technology expert explained everything (they think) ... the buyer understood everything (they thought)!

Differences happen every day in small and big ways, in the staffing business it might be rate negotiations with contractors or contract length with clients ... it is easy for people to not be on the same page.

Sometimes there is no way to get to "black and white" when talking abstract ideas, strategy or theory ... but even then it is important that you are both thinking about the same "shades of grey"!

It is incredible how often two people communicate, but the message delivered differs from the message heard.

A little due diligence, lots of questions and a willingness to take care of the details will serve you well.

"Communication works for those who work at it."

John Powell

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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