What are you trying to say

Areej AlJahani
Areej AlJahani

Do you sometimes feel that nobody understands you? Or feel some of the letters of a word are stuck on your lips? Or your hands do not let you text even a sentence?

I think it is reasonable to say that we all get stuck almost daily with “communication errors” either in our work or social surroundings. However, the worst is in our emotional surroundings, which are usually affected by some sort of ‘technical skirmishes.’

Before offering any solutions, I expect that you would be of good manner or show practical sense while encountering such situations.

Let me draw your attention to a survey, conducted in 2014 among 400 American and British companies with 100,000 employees, during which each company cited an average annual loss of around $63 million because of inadequate communication to and between employees.

In these companies, many employees were angry with the messages and the tone in which they were communicated to them with regard to taking decisions. Such a scenario prompted many international companies to appoint specialists to review and monitor communication errors.

Let us now review some of these basic communication errors. These included error of “fluctuation” and discrepancy in messages and between extreme praise or sharp criticism.

Let’s then look at the error of “exaggeration” under which an employee’s error or the size of the problem that he is involved with is exaggerated in an abrupt way.

Or just assess the error of “lack of sympathy” with the use of dry and rude language in official communication.

Or appraise the error of “aggressiveness” where communications are misused for personal accusations, and finally the error of “silence” featuring interruption of feedback between team members.

To address these five basic communication errors, I would like to start with the error of fluctuation. Instead of being vulnerable to temperaments, the solution lies in scheduling emails and phone calls as well as in avoiding to get swayed by one’s personal feelings at workplace as much as possible.

The solution for the error of exaggeration is to reconcile with the idea that exaggeration, which is part of our social culture, should not be present in a workplace environment. An e-mail is neither a poem nor a joke but a document that you may pay heavily for if you exceed your limits in it.

The error of lack of sympathy is one of the things that’s rarely talked about. Yes, we miss a lot in not showing sympathy in our communications, such as saying, “I am sorry for what I caused to happen to you” or “I understand and appreciate your sadness.”

The solutions here are many, but the desire to show sympathy in our culture is very biased and gendered, on the one hand, and temperamental on the other. However, if you realize that you will have to pay its bill in the future, you will have to hurry to resolve it.

Then there’s the error of aggressiveness, which is the illegitimate son of the miserable popular proverb “precede them by voice and then they do not beat you.”

The solution for this is to control your anger and count up to number 20 before you text a message to someone you do not like! Yes, there are people whom you do not like for one reason or the other.

Never mind! Understand your feelings first, and get rid of their consequences while on duty because you may pay a very heavy price as it involves a lot of backbiting and gossip that will eventually be harmful for your career.

Lastly, the error of silence in professional organizations and groups shall be ended with some activities — say for example, a coffee in the week — with the aim of breaking the deadlock of silence.

“Silent” organizations have to take this solution and put the meeting, even if it is a remote one, in their priority list. Instead of accusing someone that he is silent or ashamed to speak, ask him this question: What are you trying to say?

In general, what I have written here are some of the key observations pertaining to addressing communication errors. We need to address them, either individually or collectively.

What worries me most is the attitude of some people at the helm who pursue the practice of threatening their subordinates. There are many professional values such as flexibility, negotiation and tolerance and it is important that you have to exercise them valiantly and not push them behind.

Make your communication continuous and your presence meaningful. Do not hesitate to show the desire for help. Do not be timid to say “sorry, I do not stand with you on the same line, but I am with you on the same page.”

I emphasized a point from the beginning of this column that you are on the safer side and not in a danger zone. Hence, say strongly and powerfully: “I am here for you.”