Let’s Speak Esperanto

How often have you been in a meeting with your team, agreed actions and sent them off to complete the actions only for them to come back with a totally different answer to a task you didn’t set. It’s frustrating!.

You are a good communicator, you wouldn’t have got to where you are today without having good communication skills. So why do some people not hear what you are saying to them?

I have scratched my head over this one for decades and all though there are lots of potential theories as to why they never quite fit the situation.

You could just start talking more loudly and slowly at these folks and hope that it penetrates and they will do what you need them to do. It might work but it will certainly bring a new atmosphere to your meetings. You could avoid allocating tasks to the person or people who don’t seem to hear what they are being asked to do. An easy option for them, but will increase your workload considerably. You could even just carry on and maybe it will just click with them, eventually.

I have found that none of the above have been that successful for me. The best way I have discovered to solve this problem is to action the following:

Summarise at the end of the meeting what has been discussed and agreed.
Get each person to tell me in their own words what it is they have been tasked with and what the expected outcome is.
After the meeting I will write up the actions list using the same language that the tasks was reflected back to me in and email this out to all attendees.

It is not 100% foolproof, but it does reduce the amount of wasted time and energy that can be expended through misunderstanding what is being asked.