Have you ever had a miscommunication with someone? Have you ever assumed you and the person(s) you were communicating with were working on the same set of facts only to discover you weren’t?
For a long time, I’ve wanted to cut my hair and donate it to an organization that makes wigs for kids with cancer. But every time I’d bring it up, my husband would discourage me. “You look beautiful with long hair!” he’d say, “I don’t want you to cut your hair short.” (I’ve never wanted him to have a goatee, so I kinda get it.)
I kept letting my hair grow longer and longer to avoid going too short, but every time we’d discuss it, Orlando would remind me of his disapproval.
Then one day I saw a pic of a girlfriend who had cut her hair to donate it, and that was the final straw. I didn’t care if Orlando liked it or not; it was time to cut my hair!
The morning of the “event,” I approached my husband. “Listen, my love, even if you hate my hair for a little while, it’ll grow back. I’m cutting my hair today.” He shrugged, knowing this was a long time coming.
That afternoon, I walked into our home with my new look.
He smiled and hugged me. “I love it. You look so cute!”
And then he said, “But babe, that’s not what I meant when I said short hair. Your hair isn’t that short.”
I thought I was rebelling against my husband and it turns out we just had different definitions of what makes up short hair.
Similarly, my girlfriend Candice and I agreed to meet for lunch at a popular Miami spot called “Raw South.” We both arrived on time — Candice at the original location, and me at the new one.
Considering I am the common denominator in both scenarios, I’m going to accept that maybe I need to work on my communication skills!
Although these misunderstandings were no big deal, failing to communicate clearly can cause huge arguments, hurt feelings, and broken relationships.
Here are 3 simple tweaks to improve our communication skills.
1. Ask clarifying questions.
The best way to understand someone else’s position is to ask specific questions and seek more details that help you understand better. Also, ask questions that lead to more questions. Stop assuming!
What is it you don’t like about short hair?
Are we meeting at the restaurant on Sunset drive?
2. Confirm what you understood/heard.
It’s powerful to repeat what you’ve heard/understood because you give the other person a chance to correct you if you misunderstood,
What I’m hearing is that you…
Let me make sure I understand what you said…
Send a text with the date, time, and address of your meeting and say confirming the details for our lunch.
3. Learn and try again.
Sometimes we think we’re communicating clearly and we fall short. We’re human. Stay flexible and reflect on what you could have done better. Apologize if it’s needed. Then do better next time.
Hopefully, these tips will help us all understand each other better.
Let me start by asking you a clarifying question, do you think my hair qualifies as short?