Have you ever said something with good intention, but been completely misunderstood by the person you are speaking to?

Misunderstandings can really cause problems with any type of communication, whether its business or personal.

This happens frequently with email or text messages because we can’t see facial expressions nor hear the tonal changes in the voice…

These two extra layers of communication help your message land with the correct intention in the ears of the listener.

So, in this blog, I am going to share with you 7 questions to consider before you communicate any message.

This will ensure what you say will ALWAYS be understood exactly the way you intended. 


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Let’s dive into 7 Questions you need to take into account for every communication event. Whether it be a sales call, a work presentation or a sharing an important message with a colleague. When we don’t take these 7 questions into account we risk miscommunication… for example, the customer on the sales call may not understand the value of your product, so you won’t close the sale. Or your friend… after sharing your message, might say  “I don’t really understand what you mean”….

Miscommunication can leave people feeling wounded and upset… so let’s look at how to prevent that.

Let’s say you need to send a message to all members of your staff…Perhaps about an important policy change coming up in your organization.

Let’s filter that idea through this 7 Questions:


1.   What is the Intention?    .

Before we begin ANY communication, we need to be clear about what the intention is behind the message we are attempting to convey. If you have a message in the form of a keynote speech, or a quarterly update presentation… share the presentation with a friend first, and ask them what they thought was the #1 take way from your presentation. Ask them: What do you think the overall intention of my message is? That will help you see if you are heading in the right direction.


2. Who are the intended recipients? 

The best way to spread the message correctly is to write down the individuals who need to receive the message so no one is left in the dark by accident. Assuming it will reach the right people is the wrong approach. You need to make sure, by making a list, and being specific about the exact amount of people that this message needs to get out to.


3. Who is the best person for the job?

Next ask yourself – who is the best person to send or convey this message?  The sender needs to be Influential to the receiver…someone who can really change the actions of others… So, ask yourself – is there a person within your organization that can convey this message with clarity and confidence? We need to take into account how the message might get watered down from person to person… remember the game Chinese Whispers when we were kids? As a kid during parties, we would all stand in a circle and the first person would be given a specific message which they would then pass down through the line from person to person. By the time it got to the last person, that person had to say the phrase out loud and compare it to the original phrase that was first given. We would all fall about laughing when it was NOTHING like the original message. In this context, it was funny… but in an organizational context, this could be a disaster. So, think about who would be the best person suited to convey this message clearly and succinctly. 


4. Interpretation of the Message     .

Next think of all the ways this message could possibly be interpreted. Keep in mind that every individual operates from his own pre conceived ideas and unique way of seeing the world. We need to take into account these mental filters before we deliver the message. Ask yourself, is there any way, I can clearly articulate the message clearly in a way that it cannot be misinterpreted? Do I need to add an extra few extra phrase to make sure it lands with the right tone? If someone has a negative or limited mindset, could they interpret this in a really bad way? Write down all the possible ways it could be misinterpreted first before you finish the final draft of the intended communication.



5.  Is this a One way or Two-way Message?    .

The next thing we need to think about is, do you want feedback from your message? Or is this a one-way directive where no one has a choice but comply with the new rule or system being put into place. If it is a two-way channel, and the sender of the message is open to feedback, think about the possible feedback you could receive and decide on how best to answer those concerns, and whether you are able to be flexible in the situation. If it is a one-way message of communication – then you need to be careful to frame it in the best possible way so it doesn’t destroy morale or cause dissonance in the company ranks


6. What is the Best Channel? 

Next, we need to think about the best communication channel. In other words, what is the vehicle of communication? Is it a face-to-face meeting? A video conference? A team meeting in a boardroom?  Or simply a company email? Or a notice placed on the main message board? Taking into account the intention of the message and how important it is to the health of the relationship or organization, choosing the right channel will be an important factor. For example, no one likes to receive a break up message by text or email and perhaps getting fired too is best done in private face to face. Think carefully about which channel of communication is going to help the message land clearly and succinctly with no room for miscommunication.


7. Timing

Sometimes we need to take into account timing as well. For example, if you come home from a hard day at work and maybe you’re tired, cranky and hungry, this may not be the best time to discuss a problem in your relationship. Timing is important. Likewise, calling an important staff meeting to talk through difficult and complex issues right after lunch on a beautiful sunny day may be the wrong time of day for that sort of meeting. People may feel too full or sleepy after a nice, big meal and a nice relaxing sit in the sun. The same applies to conversations with family members:  pick your time. Make an appointment to discuss any serious issues that need space, time and privacy to sort out. Timing is important.

Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.