I Heard You Loud and Clear, Now What Did You Say?

Written by Chris Casey…

There is a phrase I have heard this last year, “the meaning of my communication is the response I get“. Let that sink in a bit. The meaning of my communication is the response I get, its almost as if we are responsible for how others interpret what we say. How many of you reading this have seen something in the news over the past few years that caused you to think to yourself “so what if they are offended by what I say, that’s not my problem”. Yet everyday in the work place it seems like HR is sending us the latest guidelines on how we are supposed to accommodate the latest group that is marginalized by some sort of micro-aggressive speech. So often we are inundated with do’s and don’ts of speech these days it seems like anyone born before Clinton took office needs to go back to school for a refresher course in English. If you have ever read 1984, its almost as if we have arrived at the point of Newspeak.

So why am I writing “the meaning of my communication is the response I get”? Simple really. That phrase simply shows that when a message, thought or idea you are trying to communicate to a person or group receives a response that you find to be out of step with what you expect, your recipients have not heard what you intended to get across. Whose responsibility is it to craft communication so the target gets it? Certainly not the recipient, lest advertising agencies world wide will now be able to hire anyone as a copywriter. Its the responsibility of the the purveyor of the message to ensure his target understands the message. If the recipients don’t “get it”, try again until they do. Sales people are taught this. They are trained to establish rapport while determining what personality “color” the customer might be, so that they can use specific language that might appeal to them. Marketers and Advertisers do this as well as part of their daily practice.

Sadly, the practice is not a daily occurrence in personal communications with our spouses or significant others, nor is it all that common in the work place among teams of coworkers, and sadly, rather than ensure the employees understand the message, many a manger will resort to the role of dictator to ensure compliance with their desires, rather than accept that the meaning of their communication is the response they got.

While a large segment of the population seemed to applaud the in-your-face and bombastic approach of our former President, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps he might have been a more effective communicator if he understood the concept as well. On the other hand, I could say the same thing about those who were on the other side of the political coin as well. People are demanding that others hear, understand and respect their view points, but it seems that today, fewer and fewer people are taking the responsibility to ensure that the ideas they are trying to communicate are actually being received by those to which they are directed.

Granted, not every message or idea will be received and accepted, but if you want to ensure that your message and idea are being judged on their merits and not dismissed due to two parties that speak the same technical language being unable to understand what is being said, then perhaps consider that the meaning of your communication is the response you get.