Avoid being communication scapegoat

Q. I've noticed this last year that everyone around me seems to have developed Attention Deficit Disorder. I send emails, make phone calls and have personal conversations, and people don't remember or they misunderstand. Then they blame me! Is there a strategy to avoid always being the scapegoat?

A. Yes, but you'll have to do the work of dramatically over communicating if you don't want to get blamed for others lack of attention to detail. Over communicating means you send the same message verbally, then by email, and then with an additional reminder.

The bottom line is you have to assume that your first or second communication probably didn't register or weren't received. You'll be surprised how often people will respond to your third communication as if it was the first and only message.

When you first start using repetition of messages as your new best friend you will be tempted to use a frustrated tone that you have to do the extra work. Try and remember that you are also the one getting the results.

Realize that most people you work with are experiencing this problem with dropped communications. Unfortunately, most people don't even contemplate that the solution is to take more responsibility to over communicate.

Especially with people you frequently engage make a new agreement, tell them you plan to send at least three communications regarding any plans and ask them to do the same. Point out that between the two of you it will be impossible for any balls to get dropped. Missed meetings, incorrect information and miscommunication will cease to be a cause for frustration with people who agree to your proposal.

You might ask why everyone in business doesn't simply operate automatically by over communicating since the benefits are so clear. The reason is that many people would rather feel victimized than do the extra work to reduce any opportunity for poor communication.

I've had new clients complain it just isn't fair that other people's lack of attention becomes their problem. The truth is obviously that other people truly do have a sort of cultural attention deficit these days and are overwhelmed.

You can chose to continually complain about dropped communications and be miserable. You could chose instead to accept the reality that too much information is competing with too little time and guarantee that your message is the one that gets through

The last word(s)

Q. I work with a guy who always expects me to fix his mistakes. I've given him the silent treatment and evil eye every time he screws up, but he keeps assuming I'll help him. Is there a better way to let him know I'm done covering for him?

A. Yes, stop helping him. Pouting is never your most powerful communication.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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