One of my favorite quotes is by George Bernard Shaw – “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place.” If you reflect on all the conversations you’ve had over the past few days, I would imagine you’ve been misunderstood, or you’ve misunderstood someone else at least once. One of the reasons this happens is because there is a gap between our expectation and what’s actually happening. This gap is often the basis for disagreement. To clear any misconception, we must close the gap.
Here’s an example.
You work with a group of 5 people; there is a manager and 4 other people who share similar work. One group member announces his retirement in three weeks time. Once suitable applicants are found and narrowed to two finalists, the manager invites everyone to sit in on these interviews and share their opinions about the candidates. A few days later, the manager announces that he has made his selection and you are surprised to find it is not the person you recommended for the job. What happened? There was a gap – a difference between what you expected to happen and what actually happened. The gap occurred for two reasons. The manager wasn’t clear about how he would consider and process the feedback that was given by the group members about the candidates. And because you were invited to be part of the interview process, you may have thought the manager would agree with your recommendation. So how do we close the gap?
REMEMBER THE ACRONYM, E.A.R.:
- Expectation (what do you think will happen)
- Alignment (ask clarifying questions to align what you think with what the other person thinks)
- Reality (what is actually happening)
The goal is to get alignment between your expectation and the current reality.
Let me know about your experience in closing the gap. Stay tuned for the sequel to this blog post which will examine expectations in much further detail.