Sunday, February 24, 2019

Lost in Translation

There is no magic communication formula but pay more attention to communication content, communication context, and communication style.

Due to an unprecedented level of uncertainty, velocity, and complexity, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or miscommunication are the big causes of many human problems. Often cognitive differences, knowledge gaps, or lack of contextual understanding cause misinterpretation. Misinterpretation or miscommunication further cause misguidance that perhaps means making poor judgments or steering the business in the wrong direction and leads business stagnation.

Misinterpretation often caused by a lack of contextual understanding: Communication is complicated because there are differences in goals and contexts. These contexts can shift. The business system is complex and the organization is contextual, without the contextual understanding of people, process, and technology, the blind spots, and gaps are inevitable and cause misinterpretation and miscommunication across functional or geographical borders. In the digital working environment, context intelligence is about understanding the whole meaning of functional dialects and business cultures or subcultures without getting lost in interpretation. It even touches the thought processes and logical reasoning via connection, discernment, penetration, and perception, etc, read between the lines and understand the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. From the digital management perspective, contextual understanding is about knowing the business dynamic and perceiving the business insight in a cohesive way in order to enforce cross-functional communication.

Misinterpretation is also caused by perception gaps: Because people have a different knowledge base and cognitive understanding to articulate things. Even two people observe the same thing or participate in the same conversation, they could perceive the situation and convey the message differently. There are interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication, and don’t forget the wise quote from Peter Drucker: “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.” Misinterpretation enlarges communication gaps and causes decision-ineffectiveness. Misinterpretation is perhaps caused by pre-conceptual judgment, random assumptions, prejudices, or simply lack of deeper understanding. Assumptions and prejudices are due to a lack of deeper understanding. When you intend to understand, interpret, and judge something, you need to form a critical opinion of it based on facts, discerned data, common understanding, and clarified notions. Effective communicators are working hard to spread clear messages throughout the organization through a diverse set of activities with mixed communication styles, and sometimes, they have to be fluent in multiple business dialects, with contextual intelligence; and keep communication flow with verification.

Improving communication effectiveness by overcoming "Lost in Translation" syndrome: A well-established organization has different dialects, every organizational function or division has its own focus and dialect. Thus, “lost in translation” is the common pitfalls of miscommunication. More specifically, “lost in translation” syndrome is caused by mistakes that most organizations make in this regard is that they fail to translate the high-level language of business strategy into the sub-strategy of business functions and then into the professional language of the various staff specialism. For instance, engineers need engineering language, marketers need marketing language, finance folks have their language as well, etc. Without using common business understanding, misinterpretation and miscommunication further cause dysfunctional business management and decelerates the organizational speed. To deal with challenges, strategy communication has to be customized from a general management background to technical background employees. Highly effective leaders and strategists are business “multi-linguists” who can overcome those communication obstacles, master different business dialects, and convey the right message in the right format to tailor different audiences for harnessing communication effectiveness and enforcing business collaboration.

Either making a strategic conversation at the big table or having touchy-feely chats with customers, the reality of messages is that they have to be "real."There is no magic communication formula but pay more attention to communication content (what's your message), communication context (what will indicate to a different audience) and communication style (one to all, one to one., etc, direct vs. indirect., etc), also be thoughtful to apply the good communication style and business manner skillfully for interpreting things with clarity, communicating shared goals clearly and making smooth business progress.


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