Communication Breakdown

Last week I got the chance to play that old communication land mine game with a co-worker. You know, that one called Mine Field where they rope off a course on the floor and place objects you are not supposed to step on all throughout. Then, one partner is blindfolded and the other is left to lead them through the course using only their voice.  It was interesting and reminded me that even when you think you communicate well with someone, that may not be the case. The co-worker I was with is someone I felt I had great communication with on a regular basis. Boy, were my eyes opened when we failed immediately two times in a row. I was the one blindfolded. My co-worker was left to guide me through the "mine field" using only his voice. I think I took 1.5 steps in the first round, and then 1.25 steps in the second round, not even making it 1/5 of the way through the course. Being opposite gender, age, well, really, opposite in every form of the word except our shared love of college football, we found it very hard to navigate the virtual minefield.

Sometimes we mistake good banter for good communication. I think we both learned that there is a difference between talking and actually communicating. Communication is about understanding how someone else will hear things and not only focusing on what you think you are saying. The next time you feel a co-worker isn't fully listening to you, think about what their perception of your words are and try to re-phrase your words in a way that they would say them.

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