Here are tips to overcome the problem of communication breakdown:
• Message, not messenger
• Context, not just text
Problems, events and occurrence happen by cause and effect, rather than in isolation. There are causal relationships between one problem with another, one event with another. If we concentrate on just the text, say, flexible working hours suggested by the employer which request all staff to come to work either early morning or just before noon, we will not be able to appreciate the context, say, his genuine intention to help his staff avoid traffic congestion to and from work. It is therefore important to ask "why do you say that?" as we want to know not just how people think, but also why they think so.
• Listen first, evaluate later
We should all try to understand the messenger's viewpoint, interpret his stand or needs, rephrase what he has just said, ask him questions, clear our doubts before evaluating his point of view. Evaluation can be made after the conversation ends if no urgent decision is needed. Do not prompt into judgment, decision and conclusion when we are not sure about what has been said.
• Written, not necessarily oral
People with an emotional personality, or those who hardly listen carefully to others are difficult to communicative with verbally. It is therefore advisable to write them a memo or a letter before any conversation. People who can express themselves better in writing than in oral should also use this method to minimize mistakes.
• Get feedback
The sending of messages is only the first step in the communication process. Employer and superior should encourage feedback to their order or instruction. Feedback helps to correct what is wrong, and affirm what is right. What's more, it also eradicates complaints, rumors and excuses for not being able to deliver promises.
• Level of communicators
We are aware of the difference between the ways we speak to our superior and our subordinate. In bottom-up communication, it is advisable that we make our points clear and precise, and pay attention to the superior's comment. As for top-down communication, we should always describe matters in detail while not forgetting to obtain feedback to our ideas.