Why do people say one thing and another person hears another?

Why when team members witness the Boss misstep do they walk away discouraged, frustrated or concerned, yet say nothing and/or ask no questions to seek to understand?

The answer is easy, yet mind numbing to solve.

Every one of us has a wall of thinking that limits what we hear, see and experience.

The Boss is doing the best that he or she can with what they have available to them, and with their state of mind at the time.

The team member at the same time is in their separate reality and caught up in their wall of thinking, also doing the best with what they have available to themselves at that time.

And there you have it.

Communication breaks down.

People make up their own interpretations and seek validation, so they share those interpretations with others and that’s how two separate realities metastasize into company-wide stories interpreted through each individual lens. This causes one hell of a wake and leads to fear, frustration and in some cases, hopelessness.

In the absence of awareness of other people’s perceptions, communication often falls short.

As leaders, we are very often in a hurry, spread thin or distracted. On top of our attention being bifurcated, our communication is limited to our own reality and our own individual thinking at that moment in time, therefore, our speaking is often constrained and our message unclear.

We speak, it lands and we almost never take the time to seek understanding of how the listener processed our communication. And we move to the next task.

The listener, however, is left to their individual reality and personal wall of thinking, and if incomplete with the communication, seeks validation of their interpretation.

In our hurried approach to get it all done, curiosity and checking in from leaders and followers is often a missed step.

Most people want to do the right thing. Most people want to do a good job and work well with others.

However, each person is a unique bundle of individual, personalized thoughts, and what one thinks is right or good, invariably another will think is wrong and bad.

All of us operate inside our own perspective and don’t often make the time to get curious with others, and therefore our outcomes are limited to our own narrow wall of thinking.

Another major corporate misstep in the area of communication is giving communication to one group of people and not giving the same communication (the same words, same tonality, and same emphasis) to the other groups of people in the same way, space or time. When certain people are perceived to be in the know and others are not, people make assumptions and experience overt bias towards it against the group they are in. Either way, the outcome isn’t great. Bias leads to accusations of favoritism and a vault of secrets shared only by a few.

When people feel they are not in the know, they seek information from back channeling, rumors and gossip.

Over time, false assumptions, rumors, the wall of thinking and separate realities allowed to run amuck lead to an erosion of trust and a dis-integration of Team.

#ResponseAgility

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