“I know you think you understand what you thought you heard me say. But what you think you heard me say isn’t what I really meant.” –Unknown
Texting caused my daughter and me to fight. She misunderstood my text, and I misunderstood her response. We tried to understand each other, but the result was a fight.
Communication involves an exchange and understanding of information between two or more people. This does not mean that two or more people must agree with the information. This definition is telling us to communicate in 3-D:
- discover barriers
- demonstrate listening
- direct actions.
3-D communication is about paying attention to what is being said first, and then interpreting it correctly before responding. 3-D communication is transactional. It has a beginning and an end, with the message in the middle. It’s the middle that matters.
Let’s go back to the fight with my daughter. I choose texting. My bad!
The first D in 3-D is discovering barriers. A message is often misunderstood because we all see the world differently. Some of the differences of our misunderstandings are past experiences, assumptions, expectations, knowledge, personal moods, and values.
Texting was the wrong channel to use when sending a very complex message to my daughter. For me, texting was quick and to the point. For her, texting was the beginning of our misunderstanding. I did not consider the channel for my message. In other words, I should have paused in my communication process to ask myself this question: “What channel best fits my message to be understood by my daughter?” The channel is the form we use to send our message, such as telephone, text, Facebook, email, and face-to-face conversation. Choose your channels intentionally to fit your messages.
The second D in 3-D is demonstrating active listening. Active listening helps bring understanding to the interaction. Ronee, my daughter, and I decided to meet in person to “clean up the messy communication” and try to “pave the way to effective communication.” With face-to-face conversation, we were able to work toward an agreement.
The third D in 3-D is directing the action. By choosing the face-to-face channel of communication, Ronee and I were able to use symbolic gestures to support our exchange of information, like nodding in agreement in support of each other. Because we are family, we hugged afterward. That was the best symbolic gesture of all.
In summary, I don’t like to fight with anyone, especially my daughter. I have a feeling you don’t like to fight either. Well, then here’s how to avoid fighting with anyone:
- Know the purpose of your message before you send it.
- Know the channel that fits best with your message to achieve understanding.
- Know how to send your message.
Apply the 3-D communication model when communicating with family, colleagues, team members, customers, and management.