Hey, it happens to the best of us. Humans are complicated creatures, and we get our wires crossed all the time. Usually, it is a completely innocent mistake on both parts. Little assumptions we make when we are rushing about lead to gaps in communication, which lead to misunderstandings.
Sometimes these are silly things we can laugh off, and sometimes they get a little out of control and cause us a problem with friends, family, or most worryingly, our colleagues or our boss. Here are seven smart ways to nip small misunderstandings in the bud.
1. Do not rely on text or email
This is a very modern communication pitfall, and we all get caught out here. How many times have you received a written communication that you took the wrong way, only to later be corrected when you had a proper conversation about it Meaning gets lost in text. Just pick up the phone and ask a question. Or even better, wait until you can speak to the person face to face.
2. Do not let your emotions take over
Nothing escalates a small break in communication like an emotional over-reaction. If you feel you are being insulted, played, or dismissed in some way, just think before you react. Take a breath, and then double-check the facts. Not everything in life is quite how it seems at first. You may have missed something.
If you happen to already be stressed, anxious, or in a bad mood before the misunderstanding, be aware that your state will have made things seem several times worse that they were. Of course, we can’t switch our emotions off. But being aware of them makes a huge difference.
3. Make sure they have heard your point of view
Conversely, the other person will not automatically see where you are coming from. Once you have heard them out, you can offer them your point of view. Be sure to do this as calmly as possible.
4. Ask more questions
The next step is to ask more questions. And do so openly, not angrily. Give the other person ample opportunity to explain. Trust that people are generally good and give them a chance. If it turns out they were being rude, you can always open that can of whoop-ass later. These things do not expire that quickly.
But joking aside, give them a chance first. When we approach life from the perspective that most people mean well, life is a lot less stressful. This isn’t about being naive, just being ready to see the best in people.
5. Ask for their point of view
Everyone’s situation is unique to them, and often we do not consider that when misunderstandings arise. Be curious and open. Ask them where they are coming from. Most people just want to be heard and will appreciate you asking.
If in doubt, take a break. It only takes a split-second to perceive a situation the wrong way. Your brain then triggers a series of chemical events that result in anger, anxiety, and stress. So pause. Before you let your mind pull you down the rabbit hole of despair, tell yourself to mentally take a step back and consider all the angles.
Read also – 5 Disadvantages of Being an Introvert
7. Keep things simple
Too many cooks spoil the broth. If the boss tells the assistant to tell your line manager something to pass onto you… are you getting the original version? The chances are you are getting a “Chinese whispers” version, distorted and lost in translation.
If in doubt, go back to the source and ask for clarification. Do not be afraid to ask the boss directly. If they are a sensible person, they will appreciate your willingness to ask a question and get things right.
When a misunderstanding is approached with openness and a good attitude, pretty much anything can be resolved. If we have not overreacted and said something we couldn’t take back, then that small misunderstanding is something we can easily laugh about later.