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Part: I An Aggressive Species > Keep It Clear, Clear, Clear

Chapter 8. Keep It Clear, Clear, Clear

Communication breakdowns are at the heart of so many conflicts and foul-ups. They can occur at every stage of a communication from sender to recipient and back again. From wrong assumptions to wrong information that shapes a message to misunderstandings and misinterpretations when you "get"—or maybe don't "get"—it, the possibilities for mix-ups are endless. How can you increase the chances of getting a clear message across? How can you know if that clear message has been received?

That's the problem Trina faced when she was assigned an eager but not always on-task employee—Steven—to manage on her project team. His job was to gather the research findings about the company's marketing efforts in different cities, analyze them, turn them into charts and presentations, and send them to the clients. Others on the team were involved in doing interviews or collecting survey data and turning the results in to Steven. Part of Trina's job was to give Steven guidelines on the priorities for different projects, so he could meet company timelines. However, after she gave Steven instructions, usually by e-mail, phone, or in a personal meeting, he frequently got the instructions wrong. Sometimes he changed her instructions to set up the research analysis or reports in different ways, because he thought these were better, though Trina did not. Sometimes he spent what Trina considered an excessive amount of time trying out different ways to set up the data, saying he was looking for greater efficiencies, when Trina felt he was simply wasting time.


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