Sometimes the lines of communication get muddled, even within the best of companies or between people in productive relationships. Such miscommunication can trigger negative feelings in people, from frustration and loneliness, to inadequacy. But, the good news is, there are simple steps that you can take to influence others and reopen the communication lines.

  1. Admit that there is a problem. This is the hardest step, as we often do not want to acknowledge that something is wrong or not working properly. By disclosing that the train is slightly off-center, causing delays and wear and tear in the relationship, you are taking a major step toward addressing the issue.
  2. Get together with the people who are affected by this miscommunication. Whether it’s holding a company meeting or having a short discussion with just a few people, it is important that everyone in the room is willing to have an open discussion about how you got on the wrong track, and then start working on a solution. By bringing the affected individuals into the discussion, you are not only identifying the real issue, but you are also showing them that their input is important to finding a solution. Be sure to actively listen to each member’s concerns and paraphrase what they said to ensure mutual understanding. In addition, if individuals are brought into the process, they are more likely to commit to and implement the agreed upon solution.
  3. Once a solution has been identified, confirm that everyone is on the same track. For example, if the miscommunication was based on a process, share your solution with others and ask for feedback. Once the final process has been agreed upon, send out the final version so that everyone has a copy. If the miscommunication is between individuals, bring those individuals together and once again, disclose your concerns and listen attentively to theirs. This helps to build trust and identify where the issue truly lies so that it may be properly addressed.
  4. Talk to each other. After a solution has been implemented, the communication lines do not stop there. Continue talking to your colleagues about how the new process is working, and ask them if there are any new issues that need to be addressed. Discuss any concerns they or you may have. Be sure to do this with all relationships, whether professional or personal, as both are important to your overall productivity and happiness.

Miscommunication is inevitably going to occur at some point in your workplace or personal relationships. The key factor is how you react to it. If the conflict is appropriately handled, you will not only have addressed the current issue, but have also built trust with the involved individuals since you were able to find a solution as a team.