Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.

How to Prevent Misunderstandings

How to Prevent Misunderstandings

How to prevent misunderstandings

Tips to prevent misunderstandings based upon poor communication:

  1. Avoid the use of vague, ambiguous or overgeneralised words or phrases.
  2. Use words that are specific, numerical and defined.
  3. Consider reinforcing your message with a visual image, when applicable.
  4. Give concrete definitions for any phrase that can be misunderstood.
  5. Assume that, "whatever CAN be misunderstood, WILL be misunderstood".
  6. If you are unsure of the meaning of the message, ASK for a clarification.
  7. Never guess their intended meaning.

1. Avoid the use of vague, ambiguous or overgeneralised words or phrases.

Most words have more than one possible meaning. For example, if I said, "I think he is very powerful" how many ways could you interpret that message?

  • Does it mean, he is very physically strong and can lift heavy weights?
  • Does it mean, he is a very articulate and impressive speaker?
  • Does it mean, he has a lot of authority in the organisation? or
  • Does it mean something else entirely?

The vast majority of words and phrases have more than one possible meaning, and therefore you have two distinct goals, as a communicator.

If you are transmitting a message you must be clear on your exact intended meaning and if you are the listener, you must discover the exact intended meaning.

2. Use words that are more specific, numerical and defined.

Identify all the key words and phrases that are central to your message and ensure that you choose the most specific words to express your exact meaning.

  1. Use specific verbs.
  2. Use numerical descriptions.
  3. Use definitions.

For example, rather than say, "We are travelling to London to meet the clients tomorrow".

Say instead, "At 10.30 tomorrow morning, Lindsey Gordon and I are taking the train to Paddington, London, to meet with representatives of Corporate Coach Group to discuss communication skills training."

3. Consider reinforcing your message with a visual image, when applicable.

Have you heard the phrase, "A picture is worth a thousand words"?

It is often true that you can convey more information in the form of an image, or diagram, than you could by using word descriptions.

Therefore, if you think it would help, draw a picture.

4. Give concrete definitions for any phrase that can be misunderstood.

Many phrases require definition. For example, if you write, "Come to the meeting and ensure you are well prepared and appropriately dressed". Can you see that you are setting the conditions for a disappointment?

5. Assume that, "whatever CAN be misunderstood, WILL be misunderstood".

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein

This doesn't mean you have to dumb down your message, but instead you should ensure you communicate clearly to facilitate your goal of getting your message across.

6. If you are unsure of the meaning of the message, ASK for a clarification.

Asking for clarification is not a failure to listen. It ensures that your understanding of what the speaker is saying is correct and reassures the speaker that you are interested in what they are saying.

7. Never guess their intended meaning.

If in doubt, check it out.

About the Author: Chris Farmer

Chris

Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Further Reading in Communication - Clear Communication

  • Learn to Spot Logical Lies
    Don't let your thoughts and actions be governed by logical fallacies. Some people may use them to mislead you, or as a simple mistake. Learn to identify them so that you can be prepared to spot them.
    Read Article >
  • The Six Barriers of Successful Communication
    In order to be successful, we need to be able to communicate well with others. There are many barriers that can cause breakdowns in communication, which you need to be aware of and deal with effectively.
    Read Article >
  • Top Tips to Effective Communication
    You would benefit if you improved your ability to communicate more effectively. See our top tips to improve your words, voice tone and body language. Improve your communication and improve your confidence.
    Read Article >
  • ​How to improve your communication skills
    How to Improve your Communication Skills You may have a need for training in the following specific areas of communication: Selling to the public. Communication of ideas (both to the public and to your colleagues). Handling difficult people and conflict situations. Answering difficult or critical questions. Building self-confidence as a communicator...
    Read Article >
  • Management training and advanced communication skills
    Management training and advanced communication skills Management training is about improving the performance of oneself and others. In order to do that, you need people to develop themselves. But asking a person to engage in an act of self-development means asking them to change; and many people don't like the idea...
    Read Article >

Looking for Communication Skills Training?

If you're looking to develop your Clear Communication Skills, you may find this Communication Skills Training Course beneficial:

Open Training Course Pricing and Availability

25 May
Birmingham M6 J7
£450 +VAT
30 May
London - Central
£450 +VAT
8 June
Online - Teams
£450 +VAT
13 June
Manchester City
£450 +VAT
More dates and locations available
Save £50 on this course

Next Open Course Starts in 5 days, Birmingham M6 J7, places available Book Now >