Miscommunications at work are never fun, but they’re especially frustrating when you don’t know what you did wrong.
Maybe you delayed an email and it caused confusion, or maybe a team member misunderstood a request and delivered the wrong results.
In any case, here are steps to take when miscommunication occurs in the workplace.
Acknowledge the miscommunication
When miscommunication occurs in the workplace, acknowledge it.
It’s easy to try and ignore the situation, or worse, pretend it never happened. But this only makes matters worse in the long run.
By acknowledging the miscommunication, you’re taking the first step in resolving it. Doing this shows that you’re willing to work together to find a solution. It also shows that you’re open to communication and willing to listen to what the other person has to say.
Keep emotions in check
In any situation, keep your emotions in check.
If you’re feeling angry, upset, or frustrated, it can be tough to have a productive conversation.
The best way to deal with these negative emotions is to compartmentalize them. Don’t let them affect your judgment or decision-making. Put them aside and focus on the issue at hand. This may require some deep breathing and relaxation techniques.
If you’re still feeling angry or frustrated after a little time has passed, that’s alright. But don’t reply to the email or have the conversation until you’re in a better headspace. Give yourself some time to calm down and collect your thoughts. There’s no need to act when you’re angry—you will only regret it later.
Get to the root cause
Miscommunications at work can be infuriating.
They can also be costly, leading to wasted time and effort, and even damaging relationships with coworkers.
The root cause of most miscommunications is simply a lack of alignment in expectations. This can be caused by things like unclear instructions, ambiguous goals, or different interpretations of the same information.
A smart way to prevent miscommunications from happening in the first place is to establish baseline communication standards. These standards should be clear and concise, and everyone involved should agree to them before starting any project.
In addition, set clear norms and expectations for communication. These should be specific to each team or project, and everyone should be aware of them. This will help prevent misaligned expectations from becoming a problem down the road.
Discuss potential solutions
Begin by openly discussing potential solutions with your coworkers.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some questions you can ask:
- What do you think is a fair resolution?
- What do you think the consequences should be?
- What do you think we could do to prevent this from happening again?
If you’re still not sure how to proceed, you can always consult with a supervisor. But the crucial thing is to take action and not just let the issue sit and fester.
Establish and agree on a new plan
If the issue at hand is complex, or you and the other person have different ways of approaching problem-solving, it might help to establish a new plan together.
This ensures that both parties are on the same page moving forward and reduces the chances of miscommunication happening again in the future. To do this, you can sit down with the other person (or persons) involved and come up with a step-by-step action plan.
This plan should be specific, realistic, and achievable, and should take into account everyone’s schedules and workloads. Then, agree on a method of communication that will work for everyone involved.
This might mean setting up regular check-ins, or having an open-door policy when it comes to addressing concerns. Whatever you decide, make sure that everyone is on board with the plan before moving forward.
The next time you experience a miscommunication in the workplace, try out these tips, and hopefully, you can repair the situation before it gets out of hand. Remember, communication is key, so always take the time to talk to the other person and get their side of the story. By working together, you can hopefully clear the air and move on from the situation.