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Thursday Insight: Miss Communication

Thursday Insight: Miss Communication

Last week, I got to attend our third Discovery Day and deliver training to a room full of amazing L&D professionals.

The session I ran was one of my favourite team activities: Miss Communication.
I chose it because, although it’s simple to run, it has a clear core message that really gets people thinking.

At its heart, the exercise challenges us to consider what happens when understanding varies even though we are all hearing the same thing.

All you do is read out some well-known words and ask participants to write down the word or phrase that they bring to mind. Sound simple?

If you go online to look at the exercise, you will have a good idea what happened next...

Everyone heard the same sounds, but they applied a different meaning to them.

This is because the words I used were homonyms; words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have completely different meanings.

For example, what would you hear if I said “Or”?

Would it be Or, Oar, Ore or Awe? In our group on Friday, everyone had a clear idea of the meaning of what I had said, but, in reality, none of them truly knew which word I had read aloud.

Another word I used was incite. Or was it? Maybe it was insight? In the current climate, can you think of two words with such different meanings?

In reality, we all interpret what we see, hear or experience based on our own view of reality.

It’s why we can all be in the same room, experiencing the same situation and still come away with a different perception of what just happened. But what can we learn from this?

The key learning point is that we can all, unwittingly, lack clarity when communicating. 

Whenever we communicate, whether it’s 1:1 or in a group setting, we need to check for understanding by asking questions and summarising.

If you click here, you’ll find some great activities to help you and your teams develop this habit.

All the best.


October 3 2019 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson

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