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Instead I interpreted from her seemed lack of concern, and ease at which she consented to help me as affirmation that she had the task under control. Had I simply asked her if she had any immediate conflicts, such as other work, I might have known that she did not have time to complete the task in time for the deadline or that I would be better served in asking someone else or doing the task myself, possibly with her guidance.
When I spoke with Nancy I should have said "Nancy, are you really bogged down, this week? Or would you have time to make this reservation for me? In that communication there is a clear idea of timeline and Nancy could have said, "I have time, this week what do you need?" Or "No, I am really busy this week working on other projects. Can I give you the contact information so you can make the reservation yourself? Or can I have someone else do it?" From these cue questions and possible answers I could go into greater detail but failing to tell Nancy that the conference room has a week lead time on reservations left me with no reservation and seven clients without a place to meet for a face-to-face that was essential to the collaborative project.
3. Last month I called my brother to tell him about a concern I had with our sister. She had told me that she was having a hard time making her car payment. When I spoke to my brother I was hoping that he would be able to help her out, because I could not. But instead of simply explaining the situation to him with my concern about the problem at hand, I went into to great of detail about a friend that my sister had staying with her that was not pulling her weight. Because my sister had not called our brother and because she was embarrassed about the shortfall, for her own reasons, not because her friend was staying there, after he spoke with her she was hurt and he was angry with me. She had apparently been able to come up with the money already and didn't not want to explain the situation with her friend to anyone, as she (the friend) had nothing to do with the problem.
When I spoke to my brother I was brisk and said: "You" need to help Cynthia because she is in trouble, and could "you" please go over there or call her and get the story on this girl who is staying with her?" When I really should have said, "I am worried about Cynthia, because she keeps coming up short, and that friend of hers seems to be freeloading." It turned out that my concerns were unfounded (at least in the direction I took them) and that her friend was actually staying there because she was fleeing an abusive relationship and did not want anyone to know about it. Yet, my communication to my brother led him to believe that my concerns were founded, even though they were just conjecture and what turned out to be my own interpretation of the situation.
4. When I ask someone to do some task I often assume that they will do it even if they have other conflicts that do not allow them to do so. The cues I have used in the past are prolonged silence, on the telephone and I presume it means the person is writing when in actuality it either means they are not listening to me because they are busy or they are not really willing to complete the task and don't know how to tell me no. All I really need to do is ask them for clarity, give them an out or express the need to redirect their energies to what I am talking about or even simply ask them if I can call at a better time.
5. I often listen with my own motive in mind, rather than attempting to understand the motivation for their own response to my requests. I would like to improve my telephone skills in both my personal life and in my professional life, by in the later allowing the other person to adequately express emotions about their concerns and in the former by asking for clarity and reiteration of my message and then writing both down on a checklist note to make sure I have understood and they have understood.
6. The fallacy of should has frequently interfered in both my personal and professional communications as I believe that other people "should" understand me even when I do not communicate effectively and I also believe that other people "should" have the same or similar goals as I do, even when I do not communicate these goals effectively. I remember thinking to myself that Nancy (my coworker) should know that I need something done as soon as I ask for it, even though she did not apparently know this and develop her own urgency for the task. The thinking was irrational because Nancy has a completely different job than myself and completely different task responsibilities, which I am not always aware of and the same can be said of myself. I cannot assume that other people's goals and motives are the same or…[continue]
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