You Talk. Do They Listen?

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I got reminded again today that just because I say it doesn’t mean they hear it.  I had been telling a colleague for several days, maybe even for a couple of weeks, that I had a report that gave her the information that she needed.  It was a report that documented a process that we are trying to improve.  She was the lead on improving this process and I had created a report that showed her exactly what she needed to monitor.  I thought I said it very clearly.  I should have noticed that I had to say it several times and every time not only did she seem disinterested, in every instance she fairly quickly changed the subject.  I also thought she looked at me as if I were stupid, but I’m probably just imagining that.

Anyway, I finally gave up.  I printed it out and left it on her desk with a note that said, “Thought you might want o see how we’re doing.”  She sent me an email before I got back to my desk, asking where the h**l I got this report.  My immediate–and fantasized reaction–was to say “I’ve been telling you that I had this report for WEEKS!”  BUT whose fault was it?  Hers because she hadn’t heard what I had said, or mine because I hadn’t gotten her attention with the information?  I was the only one who cared about the message getting through until she actually ‘heard’ it–then she cared too.  So . . . if I cared more, I think it was my responsibility (or in my interest) to figure out how to get it across.  She was blissfully ignorant.  I was enormously frustrated.

In her case, all I had to do was SHOW it to her.  I, on the other hand, get information best through hearing it.  So I (repeatedly) gave her information the way that works best for me.  I wasn’t focused on the receiver’s needs or receptiveness.  I wasn’t even thinking at all of it as a reception problem–I was simply sending the message into the universe and expecting the right recipients to receive it.  It was as if I were speaking Chinese to a French kindergarten class who wanted to hurry up and go out to play.  Ok, ok, that’s a bit exaggerated–but not much.

We know we have to speak the language of the person we’re talking to if we want our message to get through.  Using the appropriate medium and venue is equally important. Pay attention to how THEY send information–that is very likely the way they like to receive it.  If you notice that you’ve tried to ‘send’ the message more than a couple of times, try to send a different way–with pictures, or with something tactile or have someone else–their friend, or superior or someone more or less animated than you send the message.

NOTICE when the message isn’t getting across.  Then try things till it does.

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