August 22. “A person hears only what they understand.” (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe)
The art and science of communication is very difficult. We want to get our points across, and transmit our great ideas into the heads of those around us, but doing so is never as easy as it seems. This quote points out that one of the barriers to communication is that people only hear what they understand. If we are to be able to effectively communicate, then, we must be ever vigilant of the understanding of those around us.
In my job as a Project Manager, it is up to me to keep the project on course. My world has its own set of technical terms that help my fellow PMs and I to understand what is going on, where the pitfalls lie, and what we can do to correct problems. But to be successful, the teams executing the project have to be on board, and they have to understand what problems I am highlighting, and what they need to do about them.
There are few things more frustrating than having a clear understanding in my head of a problem, and not having the person I’m communicating with not understand that the problem exists, and that they need to take action. For me to be effective, I have to have what’s in my head enter into theirs, and to do that I have to make sure they understand exactly what I am trying to say. It requires patience and planning on my part to set the stage, and then explain the news.
Today my reflection is on how effectively I am communicating with those around me. Am I taking sufficient time to make sure that my message is understood and heard? Or am I making fatal assumptions about what the other person might be thinking, and missing on the fact that their understanding isn’t the same as mine?