my musings on technology

Elementary Truth #1 – Communication: Understand Both Sides

Posted by on Aug 19, 2009 in Musings | 2 comments

Elementary Truth #1 – Communication: Understand Both Sides

I’m starting up a new series today that I’m calling “Elementary Truths”.  These are fundamental truths in life that so often are overlooked or forgotten about and have really been in the forefront of my mind.  The first elementary truth I’m going to highlight is the basic concept that there are usually two sides to every story and that you, as a manager, spouse, friend or relative, are responsible to seek out and understand the ‘other side’

It has been very interesting to see where my source of inspiration has come from since I started blogging.  Most recently, however, the game of Rugby has really proven to be a great source of inspiration for me.  Last week I spoke about the parallels between the scrum and decision making and this week I’m going to be blogging on commentary and how points of view can so easily differ.

I was fortunate enough to get to watch two versions of the rugby game between South Africa and Australia.  The first time I watched the game it was the Setanta Sports version in which the audio stream carried the South African commentary on the game.  For the record, the South Africans won quite convincingly.  I (being born in South Africa) thought their call of the game was a very fair and accurate representation of the way the game was played.  As you can imagine the winning sides’s commentary team were gloating with pride and enthusiasm in the way their team had played.

A few days later, I got sent a copy of exactly the same game, shot with the same cameras but it had the Australian commentary team calling the game. I was blown away by the difference in opinion on how the game played out!  The Aussies were complaining about the referee, the style of game the South African’s were playing and just about everything else they could attribute the loss to.

This really got me thinking! How many times are we in a situation where we see the ‘game’ from our perspective and don’t take in to account the other side’s perspective! This is especially true in management where you are called in to mediate a disagreement.  It’s very easy to make a judgment call based on the perspective of the person calling the issue to your attention.  It is your responsibility to seek out and understand the other side of the argument if you are to make an informed decision or offer advice regarding the subject matter of the conversation.

I know this topic sounds very straight forward and logical, but I can’t tell you how often (in both my business and personal life) I encounter a situation where this basic premise had not been followed. The only way to effectively communicate is to understand both sides of the story.

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