Unlogic and inclear communication can leave you with wrinkled coats and chocolate chips…but probably not sour cream. Allow me to explain….
You know that saying that they say (whoever they is) that if you’re having problems communicating with EVERYONE around you, then the problem is probably not with them, but with you since you’re the one common factor? Well, because of that stupid saying (and the unlogic that lies behind it), I’m making a conscious effort to improve my communication with others. A couple of recent encounters have forced me to REALLY re-evaluate how I communicate with others. For example….
(1) Instead of telling the housekeepers to “please hang up or fold the clothes lying on the bed and put them away” I should have said “please do not hang pajamas or underwear up in the closet, mix it in with the towels and sheets in the hall closet, or make me have to go on an expedition around my house lookin’ for it.” I should also clearly state that “anything resembling a coat or jacket should be hung in the closet on a hanger as opposed to folded and put in a drawer.” And, generally speaking, “if it is big enough to take up a whole ENTIRE drawer by itself (e.g. a winter coat), you’ll probably want to hang it up.”
In retrospect, I should have also done a better job of emphasizing how easy I am to talk to and that I fully understand that the amount of dishes I have > the amount of available space I have in my kitchen cabinets (remedying this is a project on my never ending to-do list). So I should have clearly stated that, “I appreciate your coming up with creative ways to make sure that all the clean dishes are put away somewhere. However, I do not expect to go to the hall closet or utility room in search of a light bulb, screwdriver, or whatever and find a random pot, plate, or spatula. Let’s talk through some other options….”
(2) Instead of saying “Please leave the chocolate sauce off my dessert” I should have told the server “I don’t want any chocolate sauce, chocolate syrup, chocolate drippings, chocolate chips, chocolate curls, chocolate shavings, better yet, just don’t put anything BROWN on my dessert.”
While having lunch with a friend a few months back at a D.C. restaurant, I ordered a BLONDIE with ice cream for dessert. For those of you who don’t know, a blondie is similar to a brownie, except there is no milk chocolate or dark chocolate in it. Or at least there shouldn’t be if it’s a TRUE blondie. The key is the brown sugar, and it is usually made with walnuts and WHITE chocolate chips. And, again, if it’s a true blondie, there shouldn’t be any chocolate ON it either. Because the menu stated that the blondie was topped with chocolate sauce, I told the server that I DID NOT want the chocolate sauce on my blondie and asked if there was any other chocolate in the dessert. He said no, although it may have been made with some white chocolate (which I expected). He leaves and returns shortly thereafter with a delectable blondie topped with vanilla ice cream and SMOTHERED IN CHOCOLATE CHIPS. On the edge of going berserk, I told him that I asked for no chocolate on my blondie. He replies, “You said you didn’t want any chocolate sauce…you didn’t say anything about chocolate chips.” REALLY?!?? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t MELTED chocolate chips…chocolate sauce?! DUH!! But despite the fact that HE got smart with ME, I will take responsibility for this one, too. I’ve got to do better.
(3) Instead of rolling through the Wendy’s drive-thru and saying “I would like a sour cream and chives potato” I should have said “I would like a sour cream and chives potato and would GREATLY APPRECIATE it if you would put sour cream and chives on it.”
The past SEVERAL times I’ve driven through Wendy’s to order a sour cream and chives baked potato, I’ve received a plain baked potato. So I’ll say “there is no sour cream or chives on my sour cream and chives baked potato OR in the bag.” And they’ll say, “Oh, you wanted sour cream?” And I’ll say, “YES! I wanted sour cream AND chives on my sour cream and chives potato.” Then they’ll say, “Ok, pull over to the side, please, and we’ll bring it out to you in a few minutes.” REALLY??! After this happened about 5 or 6 times, I located the area manager’s number on the receipt and called her. I explained to her what had been happening at BOTH of the neighborhood Wendy’s. Her response was, “Sorry. But with the pay we offer, we really aren’t able to afford any better staff than that. What kinds of things do you like from our menu? I will send you some free coupons for your trouble.” I LIKE THE SOUR CREAM AND CHIVES POTATO…WITH SOUR CREAM AND CHIVES ON IT!!
So as you can see in all of these situations, the breakdown in communication was MY fault. I’m taking responsibility for my lack of clarity (please note the traces of sarcasm here…)
Have you had trouble communicating with people lately? Do you have any tips on how to improve communication? Especially when…you know….you’re a good communicator and it’s the other person that sucks?