Send it back

You cannot fix a communication problem by ignoring it.

The first time I experienced communication problems at work was at my afternoon job in high school. I had a boss who would tell me to do something, I would go do it, and then she would freak out asking me why I did what I did.

She actually made me feel crazy.

I talked with my careers teacher who had arranged for me to get this position (for school credit) and she recommended that I take notes during the conversation and either read them back to my boss afterwards as in “I understand you want me to do x, y, z” or email that statement back to her.

It felt really weird to do that at first, but what happened next was a game changer. My boss would correct where I heard something different from what she was trying to say or approve of my interpretation. It pretty much eliminated those weird melt downs after I completed tasks.

I don’t know why people communicate differently or why we hear what we want to hear, but I do know there are plenty of opportunities we can work on our communication together and get better.

I’m glad I had that experience early on to send back my notes for confirmation because it helped me prepare for future communication barriers.

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What is something you’ve done to build better communication and understanding with your team?

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