My mother-in-law grew up in the hills and hollers of Kentucky and Tennessee, and when we met I hadn’t ventured far outside of Pittsburgh. The closest I had come to hearing anyone speak like her was seeing Sissy Spacek in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter.
In those early days I often didn’t know whether Roe was talking about a kitchen “tile” or “towel,” whether she wanted a “pin” or a “pen.” I was shy teenager, so I would just nod and smile. Later I would ask my boyfriend what she meant.
Even when we speak the same language, communication can break down. In the workplace the “dialect” difference might be reflected in how departments phrase things.
Within the same hospital “ED” might refer to the emergency department or a condition treated by Viagra. When one group says it needs something Tuesday, it means when they walk in the door that morning. Another group means by the end of the day Tuesday.
In the workplace the costs of miscommunication can include accidents, missed deadlines, wasted work and angry customers. Never just nod and smile—ask for clarification.
Share your example of miscommunication at work.