This is personal. Sometimes I just don’t understand what another person or party wants. Ever been
there? I can read the email, listen to the idea, see the example – and still miss the mark. If, like me, you want better understanding…this blog is for you.
Just the other day, I was working on a task for a client and had the instructions in an email right in front of my nose. I read through the words, but somehow developed quite a different view of what was actually being requested of me. I went about completing the task, confident that I had given the client exactly what they had wanted and needed. But, a few hours later, I realized that I had completely overlooked an important sentence in the email instructions and (more than likely) confused the client. How did I miss such a key element in the instructions I was given?
I believe there are 3 common reasons you and I don’t understand what is being communicated to us at times:
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Lack of interest
- Lack of knowledge
When reading through instructions, listening to explanations, or viewing examples the human mind is often multi-tasking. The same words can be read and heard by several people with dramatically varying interpretations. According to the Associated Press, the average attention span for adults in 2012 was only 8 seconds…down from 12 seconds in 2000…and less than that of a gold fish at 9 seconds. Add to that a lack of interest in the particular subject matter and the concentration level diminishes even more, thus the same words can be read and heard by several people with dramatically varying interpretations…(in case you were multi-tasking).
Perhaps the biggest reason for misunderstanding is lack of knowledge. Possibly the easiest solution for better understanding is gaining knowledge. When we are clueless about what is being discussed, we have no point of reference for understanding and are likely to misinterpret and misunderstand. I find that researching a topic (about which I know little to zilch) provides insight and broadens my own personal interest, providing benefits on numerous levels, including the ability to focus.
For me, the other day’s lackluster performance on my part, reminded me of a humorous account told by Seth Godin about something right in front of his nose. He and a friend had just finished a delightful breakfast and as Seth walked out of the restaurant, he focused on the door to the street and the weather outside – completely ignoring the interior plate glass door, slamming right into it at full speed! According to Seth, “You get what you focus on. Focus on nothing, and you won’t get much.” (Though, in Seth’s case, he did get a broken nose).
As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that understanding your clients and customers needs is paramount. If you find yourself too often missing the point or not understanding what is being asked of you, don’t permit your nose to get out of joint. Instead, take a moment and re-evaluate. I went back to the email instructions and focused on the entire content with no preconceived ideas, no assumptions. I concentrated on every word. Now, I was interested – not specifically in the subject matter – but in my role as the service provider and how to succeed in that role and assist my client in reaching their goal. I researched anything with which I was not completely familiar and gained the knowledge needed to better serve my client’s needs.
Save yourself, and those with whom you work, a lot of unnecessary and time-wasting frustration with these 3 easy solutions that will keep your customers and clients happy and make for much better understanding:
- Re-evaluate What is Right in Front of Your Nose
- Focus and Concentrate
- Acquire the Knowledge
Image: Businessman Cover His Head With Bag by pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net