Monthly Archives: April 2015

Why is communication often complicated?

The simple answer is…what you say is often not understood in the way it was intended. A funny story to highlight the perils of communication within an organization.

Why is communication often complicated

Memo Differences

Memo from Director General to Manager: 

Today at 11 o’clock there will be a total eclipse of the sun. This is when the sun disappears behind the moon for two minutes. As this is something that cannot be seen every day, time will be allowed for employees to view the eclipse in the car park. Staff should meet in the car park at ten to eleven, when I will deliver a short speech introducing the eclipse, and giving some background information. Safety goggles will be made available at a small cost.

Memo from Manager to Department Head: 

Today at ten to eleven, all staff should meet in the car park. This will be followed by a total eclipse of the sun, which will disappear for two minutes. For a moderate cost, this will be made safe with goggles. 

The Director General will deliver a short speech beforehand to give us all some background information. This is not something that can be seen every day. 

Memo from Department Head to Floor Manager:

The Director General will today deliver a short speech to make the sun disappear for two minutes in the eclipse. This is something that can not be seen every day, so staff will meet in the car park at ten or eleven. This will be safe, if you pay a moderate cost.

Memo From Floor Manager to Supervisor: 

Ten or eleven staff are to go to the car park, where the Director General will eclipse the sun for two minutes. This doesn’t happen every day. It will be safe, but it will cost you.

Memo from Supervisor to staff: 

Some staff will go to the car park today to see the Director General disappear. It is a pity this doesn’t happen everyday.

Have you been at the receiving end of a communication gap due to difference in cultures?

On a lighter note…a funny story highlighting this common challenge.

have you been at the receiving end of a communication gap due to difference in culturesIn the days when you couldn’t count on a public facility to have indoor plumbing, an English woman was planning a trip to Germany. She was registered to stay in a small guesthouse owned by the local schoolmaster. She was concerned as to whether the guesthouse contained a WC. In England, a bathroom is commonly called a WC, which stands for water closet.

She wrote the schoolmaster inquiring about the location of the nearest WC. The schoolmaster, not fluent in English, asked the local priest if he knew the meaning of WC. Together they pondered possible meanings of the letters and concluded that the lady wanted to know if there was a “Wayside Chapel” near the house. A bathroom never entered their minds. So the schoolmaster wrote the following reply: 

Dear Madam,

I take great pleasure in informing you that the WC is located 9 miles from the house. It is located in the middle of a grove of pine trees, surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people and is open on Sundays and Thursdays. As there are many people expected in the summer months, I suggest you arrive early. There is, however, plenty of standing room. This is an unfortunate situation especially if you are in the habit of going regularly.

It may be of some interest to you that my daughter was married in the WC, as it was there that she met her husband. It was a wonderful event. There were 10 people in every seat. It was wonderful to see the expressions on their faces. My wife, sadly, has been ill and unable to go recently. It has been almost a year since she went last, which pains her greatly.

You will be pleased to know that many people bring their lunch and make a day of it. Others prefer to wait till the last minute and arrive just in time! I would recommend your ladyship plan to go on a Thursday, as there is an organ accompaniment. The acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds can be heard everywhere. The newest addition is a bell that rings every time a person enters. We are holding a bazaar to provide plush seats for all since many feel it is long needed.

I look forward to escorting you there myself and seating you in a place where you can be seen by all.

With deepest regards, 

The Schoolmaster 

Are we careful about the way we communicate?

Communication is a two-way street. What you say and what the other person understands could be two totally different things.

are we careful about the way we communicateIt is said that when filming the biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told, the director George Stevens was trying to encourage extra passion from John Wayne when delivering the highly significant line, “Truly, this was the Son of God.“

“You are talking about Jesus – think about it,” said Stevens, “You’ve got to say it with awe.“

For the next take John Wayne duly summoned his most intense feelings. He paused dramatically, and said:

“Aw, truly this was the Son of God.”

Does your communication style work?

All of us have idiosyncrasies when it comes to styles of communication. It’s a great idea to periodically evaluate the way we communicate. Does it really get the message across?

does your communication style workA man in a hot air balloon is lost. He sees a man on the ground and reduces height to speak to him.

“Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?”

“You’re in a hot air balloon hovering thirty feet above this field,” came the reply.

“You must work in Information Technology,” says the balloonist.

“I do,” says the man, “How did you know?“

“Well,” says the balloonist, “Everything you told me is technically correct, but it’s no use to anyone.“

“You must be in business,” says the man.

“I am,” says the balloonist, “How did you know?“

“Well,” says the man, “You don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”

How honest is the communication around you?

In order for us to get the maximum out of our teams, honest communication is critical. We may believe that we are getting honest feedback but we need to seriously evaluate this belief. This story serves as a caution for those of us who handle teams.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-open-door-image14124186The Army hired a communication consultant to improve communications, specifically between and amongst the junior officers and enlisted personnel.

The consultant asked the Generals how communication was between themselves and their subordinates. Almost as though rehearsed they replied that it was “pretty good.” They all said they had an “Open Door Policy.” They sincerely felt as though they were there for their men. The enlisted men could come in any time and talk about anything.

The consultant then asked the middle echelon officers, the Colonels and Majors, what they thought. The officers said that they also had an Open Door policy for their men and ensured that the policy was kept all the way down the chain of command. They felt things were quite good with senior officers, they were however, “. . . always aware of being diplomatic and respectfully courteous when talking with them.” They all said they were more spontaneously honest with fellow ranking officers.

When the enlisted men were asked what they thought was the communication problem in the military, they said they couldn’t tell their superiors the truth. They were always worried about promotions and pretty much kept their opinions of their sergeants and officers to themselves. The Open Door Policy? Yes, it’s there, but who’s going to tell a Sergeant or a General the truth? Whenever possible, ” . . . you tell them what they want to hear.”

The point of the story is that no matter what the leadership of an organization thinks, those dependent upon management for promotions and survival withhold certain thoughts, the personal-growth feedback, the stuff that really counts.

Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus

A hilarious story about communication between spouses. I’m sure a lot of us can empathize here.

men are from mars women are from venusA man and his wife had been arguing all night, and as bedtime approached neither was speaking to the other. It was not unusual for the pair to continue this war of silence for two or three days.

However, on this occasion the man was concerned; he needed to be awake at 4:30am the next morning to catch an important flight, and being a very heavy sleeper he normally relied on his wife to wake him. Cleverly, so he thought, while his wife was in the bathroom, he wrote on a piece of paper: ‘Please wake me at 4:30am – I have an important flight to catch’. He put the note on his wife’s pillow, then turned over and went to sleep.

The man awoke the next morning and looked at the clock. It was 8:00am. Enraged that he’d missed his flight, he was about to go in search of his errant wife to give her a piece of his mind, when he spotted a hand-written note on his bedside cabinet.

The note said: ‘It’s 4:30am – get up.’

How can you bridge the communication divide between generations?

We often talk about bridging the communication divide amongst generations working in the same organization…here is a funny story on this theme.

how can you bridge the communication divide between generationsThe staff at an old people’s home was puzzled when one of the residents began gargling with TCP. They asked her why but all she would say was that something had happened at the post-office. This is what actually occurred.

The old lady, who rarely ventured out, had visited the post office to post a letter. She bought a stamp, and since there was a long queue behind her she stepped aside. She put her change in her purse, licked the stamp and put it on her letter. Despite pressing and thumping and licking it again, the stamp failed to stick.

“Excuse me, this stamp won’t stick,” said the old lady.

“You need to peel the paper off the back,” explained the clerk.

The old lady put on her spectacles, fiddled for a few seconds to peel off the backing paper – and then licked the stamp again.

“It still won’t stick,” interrupted the old lady again.

“It’s a self-stick stamp,” said the assistant.

“Well this one isn’t sticking at all – there’s something wrong with it,” demanded the old lady.

“Well it won’t stick now because you’ve licked it.

“Well I’m totally confused now,” said the old lady.

“Just give it here and I’ll post it for you,” said the cashier, and doing her best to explain continued, “These new stamps don’t need licking. They are self-sticking. They save time. They are already sticky.“

The old lady continued to look blankly at the assistant.

“Look,” said the well-meaning but desperate post-office clerk, “Just imagine they’ve already been licked…”

This sent the old lady scurrying out of the door and across the road to the chemist.

Can you really afford to stop ‘learning’ how to communicate?

You can never stop learning how to improve communication…it’s a never ending process….even if you teach communication !!!!!!!!!

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-teacher-teaching-kids-blackboard-image28410014On hearing one of his students use the expression, “I don’t know nothing about it…” a teacher took the opportunity to explain about double negatives and correct grammar to the class.

The teacher explained, “In the English language a double negative makes the statement positive, so your assertion that you ‘don’t know nothing about it’ is actually an admission that you do know something about it.“

Encouraged by the interest in this revelation among certain class members, the teacher went on to demonstrate more of his knowledge of world languages: “Of course not all languages operate according to the same grammatical rules, for example, in Russian, a double negative remains negative, although perhaps surprisingly, there is not a single language anywhere in the world in which a double positive makes a negative..“

At which a voice from the back of the classroom called out ironically “Yeah, right..”

Do you actually ‘Listen’?

Listening is a much underrated skill. People think it’s the easiest thing in the world to do but it’s not. Most of us like the sound of our voices and the more authority we have, the more we want others to listen to us. Alas, a common affliction at the workplace too. A humorous story on the importance of listening.

do you actually listenA police officer in a small town stopped a motorist who was speeding down Main Street.

“But officer,” the man began, “I can explain…”

“Just be quiet,” snapped the officer. “I’m going to let you cool your heels in jail until the chief gets back.”

“But, officer, I just wanted to say…,” “And I said to keep quiet! You’re going to jail!“

A few hours later the officer looked in on his prisoner and said, “Lucky for you that the chief’s at his daughter’s wedding. He’ll be in a good mood when he gets back.”

“Don’t count on it,” answered the fellow in the cell. “I’m the groom.”

Is it enough to ‘Communicate’?

Communication is sometimes the toughest skill for those that are not born with great communication skills. Sometimes it’s just about being tactful and the message is received much better. A story on “Communicating out-of-the-box”.

is it enough to communicateA Sultan called in one of his seers and asked how long he would live.

“Sire,” said the seer, “you would live to see all your sons dead.” The sultan flew into a rage and handed the prophet over to his guards for execution.

He then called for a second seer, and asked him the same question. “Sire,” said the prophet, “I see you blessed with long life, so long that you will outlive all your family.“

The sultan was delighted and rewarded this seer with gold and silver jewelry.

Both prophets knew the truth, but one had tact, the other did not.