The Minefield of Miscommunication
Do you think you're more likely to have a misunderstanding or miscommunication with a close friend or partner or with a perfect stranger? If you’re like most of us, you probably assume you communicate most clearly with those closest to you. But that is often not the case.
Kenneth Savitsky of Williams College recently conducted an experiment that found people greatly overestimate the degree to which they imagine they are on the same page as close friends and partners.
As described on NPR, Savitsky and colleagues brought a group of couples into their lab: Some were married; some were strangers. People invariably predicted there would be less miscommunication with partners. In reality, people understood strangers about the same. But they anticipated they would have significantly better communication with those close to them—so there's actually a greater risk in communicating with loved ones because we assume we're going to understand what they mean and what they want. When it comes to strangers, we're much more likely to put effort into understanding what's happening in another person's mind.
The lesson: Even if you know someone really well, it is dangerous to ever make assumptions about what that person is thinking, feeling or wanting. So when in doubt – ask!
We want to hear. Have you ever gotten into a sticky situation by misreading what someone close to you has said? What would you do differently? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
10/21/2015 11:18:08 am
I am amazed that anyone can presume to KNOW what someone else is thinking or KNOW how someone else is acting due to conscious or subconscious influences. Why do people presume to believe that they can read the mind of someone else but refuse to believe that anyone else can read their mind?
10/21/2015 12:21:22 pm
Thank you for this Dick. It is astounding how often people think they KNOW what another person is thinking, feeling and wanting. It happens so often that people don't even see it as mind reading but rather as an invisible reality that guides their actions. Appreciate hearing from you again.
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