Many of the workplace challenges that I observe arise from expectations that one or more people involved in a discussion are clairvoyant. No one consciously admits this, of course. When Joan says she wants xyz and her direct report, Frank, says that she never mentioned xyz, this begins the unraveling of communication.
Actually, it’s not an unraveling, because there is nothing to undo. When Joan gets upset with Frank because he didn’t complete xyz, he looks like a deer in the headlights. He doesn’t have any idea what Joan is talking about.
I’m sure you’ve either observed or been a part of dozens of such situations in any given week. Imagine how much “found time” people would have if they clarified their expectations from the beginning!
You need to speak up and be clear about what you want.
These gaps don’t occur because people are ignorant; they happen because they’re dealing with so many distractions that they inadvertently forget to say what they mean to say. Much of the solution can be resolved by simply being intentional when you speak to your colleagues.
Ask if they have any questions, and in some cases, you may ask them to paraphrase your request to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Leaders are guilty of this problem, again, largely because they have so much going on and they neglect to verbalize their requests. When this happens repeatedly, though, an bad morale can percolate. Your people may be grumbling, “Does he expect me to be a mind reader?”
Pause, breathe, and speak up. You’ll see a difference almost immediately. And, as a bonus, you’ll enjoy that “found time”…and so will your staff.
Have a great day!