As you can imagine, 'poor communication' is a phrase that attracts my
I am constantly on the lookout for examples to illustrate my
belief that finding and correcting instances of poor communication can
save companies a great deal of money, which is why I call my enterprise The Hidden
Recently, however, I have noticed a growing tendency to blame poor
communication for an amazingly wide range of problems and disasters.
By way of example, here are just a few snippets I've culled from world media.
Senate hearing on Abu Ghraib
Senate hearings cast light on systemic problems within the U.S.
military structure that may have contributed to the abuse of Iraqi
prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Testimony from top U.S. officials and
military commanders suggests a lack of defined leadership,
poor communication within the chain of command and confusion
over rules for interrogating prisoners. (Huh??)
-National Public Radio
Faculty problems at community college
Angered by the reassignment of a popular leader and citing
poor communication with staff, some Everett Community College
faculty members are asking President Charlie Earl to resign.
The unrest stems from Earl's announcement May 11 that Stu Barger,
vice president of instruction, would be reassigned as senior
assistant to the president, working on projects across academic programs.
(Politics rears its ugly head?)
- Times Snohomish County bureau
Nurses leaving the profession
The consultant spent time in Volusia and Flagler counties
interviewing nurses about all aspects of their duties.
conclusions were surprising in that salary was not the
No. 1 complaint. Inadequate staffing, lack of appreciation
for their services and poor communication with administration
and medical staff were the main complaints. (Lack of respect?)
-Daytona Beach News Journal
Commission of Inquiry on 9/11
There has been entirely too much finger-pointing within the
The commission found a number of flaws in
New York City's disaster preparedness: inadequate radio
systems; poor communication between firefighters and between
firefighters and police; an insufficient 911 emergency telephone
system; breakdowns in communication between the
emergency telephone operators and the police and
firefighters on the ground. All those problems should
be addressed. (Turf defending?)
-North County Times (San Diego)
Japanese-speaking baseball player's performance
But on Wednesday, Howe blamed at least part of Matsui's
problems on poor communication, which is understandable
but also correctable.
'The play on Guzman, I know he
just didn't realize that Guzman ran that well. That was
the biggest problem there,' Howe said. 'He just took his
time and when he looked up, he said, 'Whoa, I've got
to hurry up and get rid of it,' and that's what made him throw wide.'
(Maybe just a bad throw?)
-Major League Baseball website
So decide for yourself!
Is poor communication really the culprit in these stories, or has
some underlying problem caused the communication breakdown?
I invite you to consider them all and decide for yourself. Now
look at your own workplace environment in the same way.
Let's say someone on your team has something to contribute
to a discussion, but sits silently because you are known to react badly when someone
appears to contradict you. Poor communication is the resultóbut the cause is lack of
trust based on prior experience.
If professionals don't take the trouble to pass necessary
information along to support staff, poor communication is
the result - but the cause might well be lack
of respect or consideration.
Today, many workplaces contain employees of varying
ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.
is almost inevitable, but if it happens a lot you might want
to examine whether the underlying cause is a lack of
understanding or even intolerance. Poor communication
may be the effect rather than the cause, and diversity training could be
In summary, when you hear poor communication cited as
the cause of a problem, probe a little deeper before deciding
how to respond.
Copyright, Helen Wilkie
Helen Wilkie is a professional speaker and author, specializing in
communication that improves the bottom line. She can be reached at 416-966-5023 or
Visit her websites at http://www.mhwcom.com and http://www.HiddenProfitCenter.com.