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Communication traffic jams

Is it my imagination, or has traffic been particularly terrible as of late?

I don’t just mean the number of cars on the road, no doubt swelled by the recent string of cold, wet mornings, I’m referring to the awful driving I’ve witnessed: drivers randomly stopping without warning — to let people out or in, to wait for a chicken order, or hoping for a parking spot; buses pulling out of lay-bys without notice and taxis curb-crawling then picking up speed when no fare appears.

It feels like a game of Dodge ‘Em trying to anticipate what might happen next as my blood pressure rises and I shout at the windscreen, “You have an indicator, use it!”

Guiltily lurking beneath my road rage, however, is that I know that I am equally an offender, and not just behind the wheel. It’s easy to get an idea in our heads and not realise that others might not have picked up on our genius plan. People are not mind readers! This seems to surprise us all too often.

It’s not unusual to be greeted with a stern face upon arriving late without calling. I, of course, am assuming they’d have figured out I got held up at work or went to run an errand.

Or, I’ll make a plan then get annoyed when others already have things arranged.

My intentions are so clear to me and make perfect sense in my mind, I somehow assume others will naturally see them, as if written in Sharpie across my forehead. And while we all know what it means to ASS-U-ME anything, it doesn’t always stop us from doing it.

“Most companies under-communicate their visions for change by at least a factor of ten,” according to Harvard professor, John Kotter.

I have seen the detrimental results of this in the corporate arena, affecting company unity, confidence and morale.

I suspect that many of us might similarly under-communicate in our personal lives too, straining relationships; not just regarding big changes, but even the little things.

A: “I told you I had a meeting this evening.”

B: “When?”

A: “Last week, when you were making pot roast. I told you Bill was flying in.”

This is like spying a parking spot and flipping on your indicator, but someone pulls right up on your tail because they were changing lanes, eye on their back mirror and didn’t see it. The honking ensues.

Can we get cross when people don’t know what we want of them?

There is an NLP presupposition that, ‘communication is only as meaningful as the response you get’. This suggests it is up to the person with the intention delivering the message, to make sure the message is received and understood.

Here are five tips for driving good communication at home — and on the road:

1. Get clear on your intentions and your message in advance

2. Communicate that message early

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat

4. Ensure the message has been received: get the receiver to clarify what they have understood

5. Avoid assumptions and remember that people can’t read minds.

Happy communicating ... and safe driving everyone!

•Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on 705-7488, www.juliapittcoach ing.com.