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The art of communication

December 10, 2008

My family went to North Carolina this weekend. With two small kids, the drive can quickly become an all-day affair. With my wife getting bored in the car, she took the opportunity to explore one of the personality compatibility webapps on her iPhone. It’s about as sophisticated as a teen magazine, but luckily enough, the app says we’re compatible (whew!). Best of all, since we answered certain questions the same, we should have an easy time communicating and an intuitive understanding of the other person’s concerns. Well, let’s just say there’s been a miscommunication or two over 5 years of marriage.

In business, many of my clients are often engineers, or maybe they’ve been one in a previous life. Maybe they’ve even worked in product development for 10 years. So, we have a lot in common; it would seem we’re even speaking the same language. However, I’ve found that no matter how many similarities there are between you, it’s all too easy for two people to be on different wavelengths. It may even take special effort just to realize that fact alone, much less correct it.

Sometimes, this fact can be exacerbated by the use of email. After all, if there’s any question down the road about who said what and when, I can just point to an email I sent notifying you of the change. But, having something said and having something heard can be two wildly different things.

Communicate early, and communicate often. speak clearly (leave out the jargon). LISTEN AND ASK QUESTIONS. Repeat.

If I tell you something, and you don’t understand, it’s my fault.

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