I am always surprised to find
that most times we experience frustration with another
person, the culprit is misunderstanding. Whether it be
with an employee or boss, or at home with a spouse,
child or significant other, it boils down to a lack of
As leaders, the
frustration mounts when we believe we have adequately
communicated...we have done our part. Yet, we
erroneously stop there, and don't really ask the
question, what have they understood?
After all, communication and
understanding are really two completely different
concepts. We can communicate all day long, but
what was the understanding on the receiving end? Have
you been fully understood?
Maybe it is my intuitive and
insightful nature, but I can see this happening in front
of my eyes every day. I see the nodding of the heads,
the belief that "we are all on the same page"
perspective...until two to three days later when
frustrations mount and both parties are wondering what
the other is doing and why someone dropped the ball.
Unfortunately, I have been
living this scenario at home since we are in the midst
of a major home renovation project which, like any major
project in business, has many moving parts
requiring effective communication and understanding
across a variety of parties.
The leader is accountable for
ensuring communication and understanding. I am working
on my general contractor so that he understand
Here are some key points to help
you as the leader ensure you are
Ask more questions.
Part of being
understood is asking questions so you know what the
other person is thinking and understanding. Asking
the question "what have you heard me say?" is
particularly effective when giving direction and
ensuring tasks are completed. Another effective
question is "what do you need from me?" when there are
overlapping responsibilities or interdependencies.
2. Be clear with
Nothing can be more
frustrating for both parties than getting something back
that you didn't expect. "I didn't ask for that!".
When setting expectations, go back to point #1 to make
sure your requests are clearly understood and confirmed.
Sometimes the leader can be at
fault for not appropriately communicating. When
leaders are defensive, communication and understanding
cannot progress. One way to ensure the
emotional battle is not escalating is to not
add any more emotion into it. Take ownership for
your part and recognize that you may have not
communicated correctly your expectations or
goals. Give people a second or third chance
before deciding that the problem is them and not
you. Oftentimes the best way to change
others' behavior is to first change our
Lopez is an award-winning author of
Connected and Committed
Leader. She is a
leadership and branding expert who has been featured on
the Today Show, Latina Voices Smart Talk, Living Smart
and Fox News.
In addition, her accomplishments have been
highlighted in several business periodicals
including Personal Excellence, The Long Beach
Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina
Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her
articles on management and leadership are regularly seen
in Leadership Excellence.
Laura can be contacted via her Web site at: