One of the things we probably take for granted is how we communicate with others so that we don’t bother to check whether the receiver of our communication really understood our message as we intended.
What do you understand by the text exchange below? Beth and Carol are fictitious names. The context is Beth is an assistant working in a business services company called Star, Inc. She is coordinating the workshop with the Carol who is a free lance consultant and the facilitator. It’s Monday morning the week prior to the workshop conduct dates. The workshop is scheduled to run on Friday-Saturday of the following week.
Beth: Hi Carol. Our client has a question. They are asking if until when they can confirm if they wish to be part of the Program?
Carol: Hi Beth. Are they asking about until when individual participants can confirm, or are they asking if they want to push through with the program or not?
Beth: They are asking if until when they can confirm if they want to push through with the program or not.
Carol: Oh, so the program is not confirmed by the client as yet. I suggest that the you contact Business School ABC for a Leadership Program instead as they may have more faculty and flexibility to changing schedules. Regret I must decline already. I trust that Star understands. Thanks!
Beth: This is noted. Thanks.
Carol accepted another engagement after the text exchange. Four days later, Beth again texted Carol asking about the workshop materials. Both were upset. Carol for having needlessly lost the engagement. Beth now panicking on how to tell her boss about the situation and problem of no facilitator with the workshop scheduled for next week
Luckily for Beth and Star, Inc., Carol contacted her colleagues and found someone to refer to take her place as facilitator as she was no longer available due to the miscommunication mix up.
The miscommunication was that Beth later said she was referring to the online leadership assessment, which Carol suggested to include in the workshop, and not the program or workshop itself. That is, until when can the client decide whether they will push through with the online assessment or not.
Carol, on the other hand, understood that the client was having second thoughts about pushing through with the Leadership Workshop the following week. The client had previously moved the dates a number of times. Besides, Carol already knew that the client decided not to use the online assessment when the client account manager of Star, Inc. informed her 3 days before Beth texted the question.
Just considering the actual text messages, how would you have understood what Beth was asking, the responses of Carol, and what the end of the conversation meant?
Ok, you get the picture. So what is the lesson for Beth? What is the lesson for Carol?
We can take simple things for granted and think that we’ve communicated clearly, only to find out later that we have not. Picking up the phone and talking instead can help make points clearer.