How to Communicate Properly To Prevent Misunderstandings

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Do you find yourself often being misunderstood either at work, or at home and feel you’re not being heard? When someone says things to you, have you really heard what the person has said? Or do you hear what you want to hear?

Below are some tips to make your communication cleaner, so that you reduce the likelihood of being misunderstood and also increase the chances of really understanding what other people are communicating to you.

Say it in person

E-mail is a standard form of communication these days. You use it at work. You’ve most likely got an e-mail app installed on your smartphone. E-mail communication is great. It’s easy and quick. However, e-mails also lack clarity. The contents of e-mails also require contexts exist and to be understood. They also miss real, face-to-face interaction.

If what you want to tell a colleague or friend is very important, go and speak with the person face-to-face, or at least over the phone. It will do wonders to improve your chances of being heard properly the first time.

Ask people if they’ve understood you

When you’ve conveyed a message to a person, don’t hesitate to ask the individual whether he/she has understood you. If a person replies “yes”, then take stock of their non-verbal communication. If they look like they’ve really understood you, you’ll be able to tell.

If you have any doubt the person isn’t getting you, explain it one more time.

Ask people if you’ve understood them

When a person is telling you things, let the individual say what they want to until he/she has finished. After this, say something on the lines of “let me ensure I’ve understood you correctly” and repeat back your understanding of what the person has said.

This type of checking on your part will increase the likelihood you have understood completely what the person has told you, and you can respond accordingly.

Get specific

If someone is asking you for help, it’s important to ask questions which are specific about the issue the person is talking about. Remember to use questions beginning with ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’.

Why are these types of questions important? We’ll, humans have a tendency to talk at the surface level at times, and also get caught up in how they’re feeling.

Getting to the facts will enable you to respond in ways than can help a person solve a problem he/she is facing, rather than remaining stuck in the emotions of it.

Get other people to help you

This point is particularly important in a work context. If you’re having an important meeting, and you’re unsure about the topic areas, which the meeting will cover, then get another colleague or a team to back you up.

This will help to ensure your colleagues capture anything you might not understand.

Also, if you know a person in the meeting is a gregarious and dominant person, and you’re the opposite, invite a colleague who shares similar traits as the individual to support you in the session.

My friends, it’s over to you:

• In what other ways can we communicate properly to avoid misunderstandings?
• Please share your valuable views, experiences and thoughts in the comments box below.
• Please also share this post on your favourite social networks. Thank you.

16 Comments
  1. Hi Hiten,

    Wonderful tips indeed 🙂

    I think you mentioned everything in here so well that there’s nothing more to add. Yes, in order to communicate properly so that there is no misunderstanding, we need to be very clear about what we want to say, and then say it – slow and steady. I often see some people tend to really talk too fast, which often leads to their words being misunderstood or their words not heard well enough.

    Oh yes…any communication using emails or even chats and texting can result in misunderstanding IF you are no careful and aren’t elaborate enough to explain things in detail. Talking on the telephone is a better option, though there’s nothing better than meeting and talking face to face of course.

    Yes, you should ask if the other person has understood you, or you can also repeat what you have understood to the other person so that the message conveyed is done so as was intended, though few people practice this nowadays. They don’t even wait to listen to the other person and would rather have their say or last word and just push off!

    I think any communication done with the right intention of conveying your feelings or message to the other person if done in the right way would show results, provided we take care.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

    1. Hi Harleena,

      Many thanks for your wonderful comment and I’m really glad you liked the post.

      Indeed, some people do talk fast, which can result in them being misunderstood. I can talk fast at times, so try and ensure people have heard me by asking them.

      I think people need to be more patient in general when communicating with each other, and really listen before responding.

      I really liked what you wrote about communication when done with the right intention. I think when we have a strong intention of communicating a message, we increase the chances of it being properly heard.

      Thanks very much for adding so much more to this post, Harleena. Hope you’re having a good week. 🙂

  2. Hi Hiten Sir,
    Indeed, Its a nice article. i think Maintain positive body language also works. Having positive body language can help set a positive tone to the discussion.

    1. Hi Gautam,

      I’m so glad you liked the post, my friend.

      I loved the tip you shared about having proper body language to help ensure we’re being understood. This is very important.

      Thanks a lot for leaving your great comment.

  3. Hi Hiten,

    In today’s world where we use more and more technology to communicate rather than face-to-face interactions, your advice is very important.

    I would add, especially for those who may not be so comfortable speaking in meetings, be well prepared. It’s important to think through what you want to say and how you want to say it. I often write down the main points I want to communicate, just to get them clear in my own mind not to read from the paper.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. Hi CJ,

      I can appreciate what you wrote about how so much communication these days is done through technology, as opposed to in person. In this regards, we need to ensure we continue to make efforts to communicate with people in real life.

      I loved the tip you shared about being prepared before meetings. This is so important to do and can increase our confidence to be at our best and get a positive outcome from the meeting.

      Thanks a lot for adding so much more to the post, CJ.

  4. Well said Hiten – I especially like your use of questions. Asking each other if there is understanding. In a previous life I worked in international sales in spent a lot of time in Japan and Korea. My use of either language was limited so I always had a translator with me because I was negotiating contracts so couldn’t afford misunderstandings. One of the things I learned very early on is when people nod at you it does not necessarily mean they understand. So I got into the habit of rephrasing and repeating critical questions to encourage verbal response in order to check for understanding, and I must admit that approach came in handy during my years as a small business coach.

    1. Hi Marty,

      Indeed, questions asked in the right way can be such powerful tools for effective communication.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences of being in Japan and Korea. It must have been amazing. You’re so right about not taking a nod from someone as a sign that an individual understands. Sometimes people can do this to show they understand but really they don’t

      Like you, I too make good use of rephrasing what people tell me. As you stated, such techniques are very important in a coaching context.

      Thanks for adding so much more value to this post, Marty.

  5. Well done, Hiten. Looking for physical queues is another way to see if you are being understood. Facial expressions or even posture can indicate how they are reacting or understanding what is being said. On the other side, when expressing ideas and opinions, we need to be open in our presence and empathetic in our listening. Great points! Jon

    1. Hi Jon,

      I’m glad you liked the points in the post and and I loved what you wrote about using physical cues as a way to see if we are being understood by others. Body language is so important in communication and we can at times tell what people are really feeling just by the way their body language is

      As you said, facial expressions and posture really can help us decipher if what we’re communicating is being understood. Absolutely, you’re spot on about having a open demeanour and listening with empathy. I find listening in a totally objective way helps me really hear people properly.

      Thanks for commenting, and have a great weekend, Jon.

  6. Fantastic Points, Hiten!

    Being able to communicate to others is so crucial. I’d add trying to see the viewpoints and perspective the other person has. What they might be thinking or feeling as a result of what is being communicated. It requires moving from a self focus to an others focus. Great thoughts!

    1. Hi Dan,

      I’m really glad you liked the post, my friend.

      As you rightly said, being able to communicate is essential. Many thanks for sharing the tip about seeing other people’s viewpoints and perspectives. It is when we do this that we develop a foundation for proper communication based upon respect. I loved what you said about how this approach involves moving to focusing on others.

      Have a great weekend, Dan!

  7. One thing I learned about communication from the time I was in the military. Repeating back.

    I don’t do it all the time, because people who haven’t been in the militaryu may find it strange, but if it is important to get something right and you repeat back what people tell you it gives you both a chance to be sure you REALLY heard exactly what was said.

    -SJ

    1. Hi SJ,

      I just loved what you shared about your experiences with repeating back when you in the military. This is a brilliant example of the use of such a technique in an important sector where proper and accurate communication is of the essence.

      Indeed, as you quite rightly said, repeating back not gives us a chance to ensure we’ve heard correctly but also an opportunity for the other person to check that what he/she wanted to convey has been understood by us.

      Many thanks for your great comment, SJ!

  8. Very practical advice on an important topic, Hiten. It’s so true that email leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation. We read a certain tone that’s not there, we can take comments out of context, etc. Also like how you state what seems so obvious and yet we don’t do it, i.e., verify that we’ve understood others properly and that we’re understood. Reflecting back in communication is so important, i.e., If I heard you correctly… or If I’m mistaken, please let me know.. etc, yet we forget to do it. Thanks again, my friend.

    1. Hi Alice,

      I loved what you shared about the pitfalls of e-mail. Although it’s a very useful form of communication, as you rightly pointed out, there is the risk of reading too much into a tone that might not even be there. We usually find this when we speak to the same person face-to-face about the same issue, and the way the person behaves is totally contrary to what we perceived from the e-mail.

      I’m glad you could resonate with the point about asking others if we’ve understood them properly. This is such a simple tool, which can dramatically impact the way we communicate for the better.

      Many thanks for sharing your views on this area, Alice!

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