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A-Ha Moments

Global Miscommunications

Written by: Bill Sherman on Saturday, 19 April 2008, 10:12 PM

When you’re working with people who remotely, it’s easy to have miscommunications.

Recently, I was on the phone with an author and a graphic designer discussing the book cover. My friend, Rajesh was concerned about one area of the image that made the photo look old and worn. When I asked him which part, I heard him say “the grain” but really he had said, “the green.” This miscommunication lasted over fifteen minutes, and it nearly led to a redesign in a completely wrong direction.

If we were face-to-face, he could have pointed to the photo, and we would have seen. However, we were relying on phone. The only way we caught the miscommunication was because one follow-up comment just didn’t “seem to fit” with my understanding. So, I pursued it by asking more questions.

Let’s take a step back. Every collaboration tool can produce misunderstandings. That’s why it’s important for both sides to listen and repeat-back their understandings.

How do you avoid miscommunications when you work remotely with others?

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