Are we on the same page?

Photo courtesy of Mr. TinDC (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Mr. TinDC (Creative Commons)

Something I’ve noticed lately is how far apart people can be when it comes to what different terms mean.

For instance, I schedule the furniture pickups for the thrift store at the nonprofit where I work. When people call to donate an item, one of the first questions I ask is, “is it in good condition?”

“Oh yes,” is usually the response that I get, although sometimes it will be a hesitant, “it’s ok.” Often when the guys arrive to actually take the item, they find tears, broken pieces, scratches, or unusually heavy wear, which in my mind and theirs, indicates something other than “good condition.”

The same happens when someone says they will be somewhere or do something “soon.” There are very different definitions of “soon.”

I’m learning to be more descriptive of what I mean when a word could be taken different ways, just so my communication is clear. Instead of “soon,” I will say “in an hour” or “this afternoon.” Instead of just “good’ condition, I continue by saying “with no tears, stains or broken areas.”

Communication is so important, and unclear or misleading communication can be almost more dangerous than no communication because it sets up a certain expectation that can be easily misunderstood.

How clear is your communication?