My eight year old son was in Sunday School last weekend. The teacher was teaching a lesson on patience. At one point during the lesson, the teacher talked about a situation where the Israelites were frustrated and began to whine. The teacher looked at the class and asked the kids “Do any of you ever whine?” My son immediately shot up his hand and announced to the class “I never whine, but my parents do… And sometimes they run out and have to run to the store to get more!”
Funny story as it is, but it did get me thinking… How often do we think we are clearly communicating something that is actually received very differently than it was intended? This can be true in a marriage, in an office setting or in any other social situation. It’s easy to assume that written communication would be exempt from these types of misunderstandings, but there are internet sites filled with funny examples of typos that portray a very different message than what was meant. But typos aside, how many times do we clutter our communication with “insider knowledge” that our target audience doesn’t understand? We create websites and wonder why people don’t call us. We pass out marketing brochures that get no response. Granted, there is a key design element at play here, but beyond that what are we really communicating? Are we speaking in terms that are readily understood or are we including jargon that puts potential customers off because they’re not sure what we’re offering?
The Sunday School teacher knew exactly what he was asking. And my son knew exactly what he was answering. However, they were clearly on two different pages. It’s critical for our success that we make sure we’re communicating in a way that won’t readily be misunderstood. Unless we’re looking for humorous stories as opposed to new business.