The impression people get from your spoken and written words
Damage Insurance Broker, Vice President and Team Leader
One day, a Canadian tourist travelling in Israel asks an old man in English: “Is the way to the synagogue to the right?” He points to his right with his finger. The old man nods his head yes.
In truth, the synagogue was completely in the opposite direction… So why did the old man give out the wrong information? For two very simple reasons:
- The tourist should have asked: “You, old man, when you go to the synagogue, what road do you take? The one to the right or to the left?”
- The old man doesn’t speak English.
This story illustrates how various communication problems can prevent us from reaching our goals efficiently. These problems arise often in our daily exchanges. For example, why do we stubbornly keep sending the exact same e-mail four or five times to a colleague when we clearly see that he or she does not understand what we are trying to communicate? The answer is probably that both counterparts do not have the same understanding and/or interpretation of the topic or the wording used.
Thus, many topics require that we lift any ambiguity that may exist. To change one’s method of communication might sometimes be the solution.
Ask yourself the question: “Would it be more efficient to pick up the phone and speak directly to the person so as to avoid any misunderstanding?”
Correspondingly, have you ever reflected on the tone you use when you answer the phone? Personally, I occasionally have a bit of a “dry” or “stern” intonation.
Ask yourself the question: “Will the person making the call believe she is bothering you or not? How does she perceive your tone of voice?”
Regardless of our workload or our mood of the day, we should always be consistent in the way we answer other people and, naturally, be courteous at all times. Our correspondents do not need to know that we are having a bad day or that we are overwhelmed with work.
Finally, it is often a good idea to reflect on how we communicate with people and try to remedy to anything that could hinder understanding. Problems with communication, perception or interpretation will always remain, but let’s attempt to reduce them. So “Ask yourself the question”…