What was that you said?

Did you know we all communicate poorly? That when we speak to another person, what we think we are explaining is only offered with 78% of accuracy. The receiver, or the person we are talking to believes they understand about 91% of the explanation. But the truth of it is they actually only interpret around 70% of what we said. So why is this?

I was delivering a workshop to a group of students a recent study about the breakdown of communication and what we found was we all give ourselves too much credit for cognitive interpretation. It may be that we hang off every word we are given when instructed, but it’s how our minds interpret that data that makes the difference. If I say, “go and put a handful of flour in the white bowl,” what I believe is a handful and which white bowl may well be different to the receiver’s concept of a handful and their belief as to which white bowl I was referring to. Chances are, when they return with said bowl and flour, I may be disgruntled by the failure to follow such simple instructions. However, it is equally my fault as I have failed to be more specific. The receiver also failed to clarify the meaning of handful and identify which white bowl I actually wanted. As humans, we don’t like to be seen as ignorant or stupid, so we often nod and agree or speak in flippant terms without assuring the detail we share or interpret is correct. Maybe we all should listen a bit more closely, check what is asked and in turn, be sure to explain things better and make sure the message we deliver is well received. It would make for a better world, if only it were so.



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