Do you make this communication mistake?

by Betty Lochner on March 19, 2012

Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy. ~ Brian Tracy, Author


Have you ever asked someone to do something and got a different response than you expected?  Or worse, have you just assumed they know what you want?

Making assumptions is one of the most common communication mistakes we make.

Most of us have been guilty of making assumptions that people understand what we want, even when we don’t tell them what that is.  Then, we get upset when our undisclosed expectations aren’t met.  No wonder we struggle in relationships!

To increase the success of your message being heard and understood, make sure that the information you need to convey – whether it is written or spoken – is clear and directly communicated.

  • Use language that is specific and unambiguous.
  • Explain what the behavior or action looks like.
  • Check that the receiver understands the message as you intended.

One way to communicate clearly is to descirbe what the behavior looks like to you.  For example, “I expect you to be home by 9:00.  What that looks like to me is that you are home and in your room with the door closed before the clock in the living room strikes 9:00.”

Then, get confirmation that you were understood.  Ask “Do you understand?; Can you do that?” or better yet, ask them to say back or paraprase what you just said to make sure that they understand.

The key to being a clear communicator is to be open and honest about your expectations.  For example, rolling your eyes does not clearly convey what you expect soemone to wear to work.  Say, specifically – “I expect you dress appropriatly for this work place.  What that looks like is – skirts that are no shorter than 4 inches above your knee, cleavage and midrif covered, pants and shirts that are not tight.”  Then, if they wear something inappropriate, tell them – “that skirt is too short for this work place.”

Practice being clear and tell people what you expect and want. Have a conversation that starts with “I would like you to” or “I want this to happen”. Be specific and state your expectations right up front.  Don’t wait until someone disappoints you because they didn’t know what you meant.


Cornerstone Coaching & TrainingBetty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit:

  • Join me on Facebook for daily communication tips, advice and challenges!
Share Button

© 2017 Cornerstone Coaching & Training. All Rights Reserved.