My job description entails communicating with a team of workmen. In a nutshell, I am a bridge in communication between management and workers in a contract staff scenario.
Obviously, this implies a whole lot of communication. In the beginning stages, I struggled while communicating, not because I was or am a terrible communicator, and neither were the staff on the other end of the communication, but upon closer analysis, I would realize it was because of expectations.
I expected they understood me, as other teams I’ve led in the past, not realizing that the other times I’ve worked on and with teams that comprised an entirely different demographic, age-wise, professionally and educationally.
The previous teams I’ve led have comprised undergraduates of about my age with whom I could say a thing and expect that they got at least 80% of what was said, and the rest of the say 10, 20 was ironed out when questions are asked, and answers were given.
Some days there are meetings where I spell out things that we need to cease from, either because they were either unsafe or inappropriate or some times even both, and that same day or a day after I still find a few doing exactly what we agreed we shouldn’t do.
I realized I was speaking plenty Oyibo, and what I considered regular workplace communication was big-big grammar to them. I had to consciously keep my thesaurus at home and enter street with them, speaking pidgin English, which God being so kind I’m also fluent in, I realized compliance has increased significantly as expectations were recalibrated.
Is it not the same with all of us? I realized the issues we have with people are mostly expectational. Boyfriend and girlfriend having quarrels because one isn’t calling to check up on the other with the frequency the aggrieved party thinks is satisfactory; a niece not in speaking terms with her Uncle who she perceives is a big shot for not responding to her distress call for financial aid; a teenager at loggerheads with the parent who says he can’t have a device he thinks the parent can afford but decide not to get for him.
Expectations remain a bone of contention, whenever two people at two ends of a communication line have two different expectations from a relationship.
There would most likely be not only miscommunication but misunderstanding and then, tensions, malice, and the rest of those emotions that belong in this category.
We can choose to be more effective communicators and have better relationships, just by recalibrating our expectations. I chose the word recalibrate, because it would have to be raised for some people and cases, and lowered for other scenarios.
Nevertheless, when communication is going sour, and our compliance is noticeably an issue, we should always check our expectations to know the underlying problems.
This can be done by observation, like the example I cited above, or by humbling ourselves and asking questions of the person or people on the receiving end of our communication. Thanks for reading.