5 Steps for Correcting Communication Misunderstandings

Communication is a vital skill for leaders, yet it can often be messy.

Depending on what is said, how things are said, and how messages are received, misunderstandings can easily occur.

When you find yourself being misunderstood and having to navigate fallout, implement these 5 steps in order to get your team back on the same page:

1 – Refrain from Fighting Back

It’s natural to want to defend yourself and “set things straight.” However, that’s not the most productive approach. In our day and age of people being “triggered” by something someone said, it’s critical to maintain your composure so you can resolve the misunderstanding. When emotions get hot, leaders must cool things down. You can do that by refusing to lash out and fighting back to defend yourself.

2 – Reflect on What Was Said

No matter how hard you try, there will be times you say something wrong or your message is not heard as you intended. Take a moment to consider what was communicated and what might have been heard instead. Think about things from multiple perspectives so you can have a more informed conversation later.

3 – Maintain a Humble Demeanor

Pride builds a wall between leaders and their followers very quickly. If you truly want to make sure your message is communicated clearly, be humble and curious so you can get to the root cause of the issue at hand. Once again, don’t buck up to defend yourself. Instead, seek to understand what the other person heard that caused the misunderstanding.

4 – Seek Reconciliation

If there has been a breach of trust or a relationship is damaged, intentionally seek ways to reconcile with others. As a leader, it’s important to go first to find ways to make things right. This doesn’t mean you have to admit you were wrong, but it does communicate that you want to get everyone on the same page for the sake of maintaining healthy relationships and for the organization.

5 – Adjust Your Message as Needed

If, in your reflection and inquiries, you discover that you said something in error or inappropriate, go back and adjust your message. Sometimes the breakdown occurs because you assumed people understood more than they actually did. If that’s the case, give the backstory that can help them understand. If you used words that didn’t connect, try rephrasing things. Make the adjustments to do whatever is helpful to get your intended message across.

Communication is challenging. It always has been and always will be. But as leaders, we must work hard to craft and refine our messages so we can rally people together in order to accomplish the goals and mission of the organization. Don’t be sloppy in crafting your messages. Be intentional.

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Until next time…make today GREAT!