” … That is not what I meant at all./That is not it, at all.” T S Eliot, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
In the cafe, two businessmen at the next table were discussing an issue over a coffee . They might as well have been in separate rooms, speaking their thoughts out loud to the walls. Neither was hearing the other. Each was merely thinking and speaking. They didn’t even bother to take it in turns.
It is no wonder that misunderstandings arise between colleagues and managers and teams. Individuals often assume that everyone else knows exactly what they mean. Unfortunately, it’s only some way down the line that it turns out that what you meant by “as soon as possible” was at odds with someone else’s interpretation (“when I get a minute”).
Team members often don’t take the time to really listen and understand their colleagues. Under pressure to take action and move a project forward, assumptions are made about ‘how everyone works’ (ie ‘like me’). Later it becomes apparent that it ain’t necessarily so.
Really listening to appreciate how fellow team members think takes a little time. And a little tolerance. And a letting go of ego. However, the payoff is that it soon becomes clear what each person’s strengths are, and how each can best contribute to achieving the goal.
Better to find out at the beginning, I would say, than have to untangle the lines of communication halfway through. Really being heard, and really being understood (as anyone who has been properly coached knows) is a treat. One we don’t experience often enough in daily life. Go ahead. Listen. Make someone’s day.