4 Ways for Contractors to Prevent Miscommunication at Work


You’re excited. You have an interview with a great company.

You’ve brushed up your resume, done your research, and talked at length with your Account Manager to prep for the interview. You’re confident this job is in the bag.

The day comes, and everything's going according to plan. You and your interviewer have a great rapport, and so far, you’ve nailed every question.

As the conversation proceeds, the interviewer asks you about a specific technology. You know it fairly well, but are by no means an expert, and explain as such, touching on previous encounters with the technology as well as project outcomes, only to receive a look.

You, being the cool and collected contractor you are, quickly write the incident off as an unguarded moment and continue as if nothing happened, finishing the interview feeling confident. Patting yourself on the back for landed the perfect job, you receive a call only to find that the ‘look’ you casually disregarded was actually the final nail in your coffin.

“The company was looking for someone with a more experience in that particular technology,” your Account Manager says. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding.”

You’re speechless, disappointed, and frankly a little confused. You outlined your experience in your resume. Did your interviewer read through your credentials? Was your Account Manager aware of the role this technology would play in the project? Did you misread the position requirements? Clearly, your interpretation of ‘experience’ differed from the interviewer’s, but what now?

The ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of miscommunication are significant, but the more important question is what can you do to prevent such events? This TED Ed Video outlines the whys behind miscommunication and allows you the tools to effectively express yourself, as well as means to minimize communication-based frustration.

Here are four TED-approved tips to prevent workplace miscommunication.

1. Understand That Passive Hearing and Active Listening are Not the Same

Miscommunication at work starts and ends with the projection of your thoughts, impressions, feeling, and ideas on to what a coworker might be saying. Make a concerted effort to actively listen to those around you and respond accordingly to facilitate mutual understanding.

​2. Listening with your Eyes, Ears, and Gut

Remember that communication in contract work depends on far more than just words. Before responding always consider how the message is delivered - the tone, the nonverbal cues, body language, etc. - as well as the particular situation in which the message is conveyed. A measured and mindful counter will help prevent on misinterpretation and projection.

3. Understand to be Better Understood

Successful conversations require reciprocation. Craft a message which allows for active communication and feedback while avoiding things like words with tricky semantics and connotations, distracting external stimuli, and emotional pain points  - they can lead to unintended complications.

Instead, start a dialogue. Explain your view of a particular event, problem, or action and asking for your counterpart’s interpretation of that same event. It allows for the establishment of mutual meaning and stave off subjective meaning and interpretation.

​4. Keep in Mind that We Each Have Our Own Perceptual Biases

Elements outside of your control - i.e. your background, culture, community, and experience - impact how you interpret your surroundings. Strive to recognize the effect of these factors on your personal perception and don’t assume that your is the objective truth. When you shed your preconceived notions, you gain common ground.

Watch the Video for More!

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