How to Reduce Misunderstanding
Communication usually goes awry on projects because people "informate" rather than "communicate".
“Informating” is the dissemination of information, irrespective of the meaning that may be attached to it by the recipient. Informating results in you playing 'chinese whispers' on your project.
There is an old story that, in the first world war, the front line sent a message via runners to the general. The message said: "Send reinforcements, we are going to advance". By the time the message reached the general it said "send three and fourpence, we are going to a dance".
Any message you "send out" as Project Manager can get distorted and misunderstood.
“Communicating” is the achievement of a common understanding between two or more people - ie: where both attribute the same meaning to the information that is exchanged.
As Project Manager, you have to make sure you communicate, and your team members communicate with each other, and not just informate.
How Communication Works
What do you think I mean if I say the word: "Speed".
I have asked this question many times on workshops, and here is a selection of the answers I get:
- Velocity; distance over time; rate of progress
- Going fast
- Exceeding the speed limit
- The film with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock
- The footballer who played for Everton and Wales
Why are there so many different answers?
Because communication is a complex process, and any message is distorted by:
- the experience/filters of both speaker and listener
- the medium used to communicate
If you are not interested in football, or have never seen Everton or Wales play, then you may never have heard of Gary Speed, the footballer. Therefore, your experience, or lack of it, excludes "the footballer" as a possible response.
If you are someone who deals everyday with drugs and drug addicts, the first thing you may think of is drugs.