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The source of most problems is one thing: miscommunication. One person expected 'A' while the other expected 'B'. The fallout is sometimes minor and can be rectified quickly. Other times it is catastrophic.

Miscommunication cannot be avoided. It's a byproduct of the interpretive and contextual aspects of language. We grow up in different environments. Your interpretation of the word 'success' may be completely different from mine. Unlike computer code, language is not binary. A computer only understands 1's and 0's. To a computer a 1 is a 1 and 0 is 0. The context does not matter. You could be in a great or bad mood, sad or happy, your input is interpreted the same way regardless of your mood or how hard you hit the keyboard.

When miscommunication occurs, your follow-up action is critical. Your reaction, your process to troubleshoot, and what you do next will impact the level of fallout. Often the reaction is impulsive. This manifests into finger-pointing and actions that you will regret. Instead, acknowledge that miscommunication has occurred and move forward. The challenge is to get to parity. If you expected 'A', and your colleague expected 'B', you first need to understand what 'B' is. You may not even see 'B' because your colleague has information you don't have, context you have not experienced, or some other factor(s). How do you troubleshoot so you can see 'B'? Ask two questions:

  1. What was the intended result?
  2. What actually happened?

Question one will get you to see 'B'. And question two will make it clear why 'B' was not part of the outcome. Follow up questions will be needed in order to fully understand the intended result and what actually happened. But if these two questions are answered, you will have parity with your colleague. You can then be confident that if you both now expect 'C', you are both seeing it as 'C'.