Take Responsibility For Being Understood In 3 Simple Steps

Many of my clients are sharp, fast thinkers. And they often get frustrated over breakdowns in communication at work, especially when other people "don't instantly get" what they are saying and doing.
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I remember listening to the news around the time that Japan unexpectedly fell back into recession.

When I started college in Tokyo, Japan was in recession. When I graduated from college and entered the workforce full time, the economy was bad again and it never really got better.

Since then, I've attended business school in the United States, experienced a couple of company mergers, worked for a company that filed for bankruptcy, and survived many rounds of layoffs.

Back in the days when there was no Facebook or Twitter (yes, there was time long ago when there was no such thing as social media!), I was headhunted to start up the Tokyo office of an American online advertising agency that wanted to penetrate the Japanese market, the second largest consumer market in the world at that time.

I flew to the company's U.S. headquarters for training and meetings. The second day I was there, a group of us were ushered into a conference room. The next thing I knew, we were told that more than half the people who had arrived the day before were laid off. It was only our second day of training.

Working in a bad economy and during recessions is the norm for me.

How about you?

What's the norm for you?

We all have our own sense of what normal is.

Problems arise with communication when people expect everyone around them to see the world as they see it. In other words, they expect what's normal for them to be normal for everyone else.

Many of my clients are sharp, fast thinkers. And they often get frustrated over breakdowns in communication at work, especially when other people "don't instantly get" what they are saying and doing.

When you assume everyone sees and understands the world the way you do, you can fall into the Tunnel Vision Trap: You expect everyone to think and communicate the way you do.

The hard truth is, that's never going to happen.

We are all unique; and the way each of us process the world around us is unique, too.

Communication is a two-way street, and the goal is mutual understanding.

If you get trapped in the limiting mindset of "They just don't get it," then you will never find common ground.

That's like putting yourself on a pedestal and trying to communicate while you look down at everyone else. Connection and understanding can never happen from that space.

What would happen if you flipped the situation around and tried seeing it from the other person's point of view?

Can you open your mind to the reality that there are times when the other side feels just as frustrated as you do?

If you find yourself at a communication impasse:

  • First, accept that we are all imperfect and unique. We all see the world through our own lenses.

  • Then look at the situation and try to find equal footing. Ask yourself: "Where do your experiences or understanding overlap?"
  • Finally, step back and ask yourself, "Am I presenting this information in a way that is clear and easy to understand?"
  • Remember each of us all have the responsibility to communicate so that the other side understands.

    Are you taking full responsibility in how you are communicating? Or do you expect everyone else to just "get it?"

    If you find yourself frustrated by communication breakdowns at work and you know you can do better, schedule a Clarity Call. We will discuss your major challenges and how coaching might help you to bridge the gap from where you are now to where you want to be.

    Nozomi Morgan, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach and the Founder and President of Michiki Morgan Worldwide LLC. Addition to coaching, she speaks and trains on leadership, career, professional development and cross-cultural business communication.

    Visit www.nozomimorgan.com to learn more about Nozomi . There, you can download the free Leadership Discovery Tool. Follow Nozomi on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

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