Don't get your wires crossed: Communicating with Intent By: Enada Hakrama

In business, we have all run into a similar situation regarding a time we wish we could have said something better than we initially did. The scenario plays out with a conversation between you and a coworker/business partner/boss or even a friend. During this conversation, you can't seem to get your words out correctly. Suddenly a conversation that you had clear intentions on becomes murky, and you get the feeling of leaving the other person confused on your message. If you are anything like me, you then (almost to a fault) reanalyze where the conversation went south for you and why the words did not come out correctly.


Thinking back to my earlier years in corporate, I can recall a distinct conversation I had with my boss when my wires COMPLETELY crossed. It regarded my growth within the company and how I planned on to get there. Many before me have had similar conversations. I was feeling confident about how it would go and what the outcome would be...here is how it went instead.



Setting: End of our weekly 1-1 meeting


Me: I wanted to talk to you about one more thing, its related to the growth potential I have here.


Boss: Sure thing, anything in specific?


Me: Ideally, I would like to do well in the role I am in currently and prepare to take the next step.


Boss: That would be great, but I do not foresee a position opening up for the next step anytime soon.

(At this point the only thing my brain registered was the rejection of a timeline. Que the response I wish I could redo)


Me: Hmmm... that is really good to know. I will have to think about that for the future.


While there was nothing inappropriate about my response; I did make a few rookie mistakes. I spoke, with the intention to respond. I ultimately responded based off of the emotion I was feeling rather than the logic.


In turn, my response left our meeting feeling that I would be unhappy if I did not move into a new role soon. Ironically, I was feeling quite the opposite. I loved my job, loved the people I worked with, and liked what I did. I knew my boss appreciated my hard work, and I knew they would promote me given the opportunity.


My response should have been: Thank you for letting me know that we do not have a clear timeline for the next step. I appreciate the transparency, and although I look forward to the next step, I am enjoying my time in this role. I know that when the time comes, we will get a timeline figured out.


In Sullivan, Jay. Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond. Wiley, 2017.

"Focus on your audience, not on yourself. This is rule number one. ""Use simple, easy-to-understand words and phrases. ""Be clear about your main message."


My additions to this list


Repeat the statement or question you heard to make sure you received the comment with the correct intent.Take a few thoughtful moments before you respond even if you are eager to say something.Try to understand your communication style and how others perceive it.


I am learning from people daily in my career between my wonderful; coworkers, candidates, clients, and executives. I am thoughtful of how important growing your communication can be for better relationships all around.


Feel free to leave your crossed-wire stories below or send them privately via LinkedIn. Id love to hear about your experiences!


If you're interested in continuing the conversation, reach out to me on LinkedIn at Enada Hakrama.

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