Constructive Ways to Avoid Communication Gaps

Every day presents a new chance to either communicate clearly, or to stumble into confusion, conflict, and hurt feelings. One of the biggest sources of communication conflict lies in the gap between what we say, and how that communication is received by others.

In this dangerous gap, the impact we intend can be distorted, as the recipient makes meaning from our words, body language, and delivery, sometimes creating a story that is not what we originally intended. These misunderstandings, if left unaddressed, can fracture or even ruin business relationships, families, and friendships.

Each person sends and receives the information through filters or lenses formed by their own history and experiences.

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We can minimize the size of this communication gap by doing the important work of remaining active, intentional participants in our communications, both as a sender and as a receiver of information. The following strategies can be a huge help in the process.


Share your INTENT: It is important for me to share this because…

Ask for IMPACT: How did it feel to hear this? How does this land?

LISTEN to the response



PARAPHRASE: I heard you say…

SHARE: What you heard between the lines, and also the IMPACT it had on you. Try, “I feel” or “So what I think I hear you saying is”

It is especially important to share impact when it feels hurtful or surprising or confusing – otherwise we create stories and build walls and tension around us. More times than not we are wrong in the stories we create about ourselves and of others. We will communicate more clearly and with less conflict if we can bridge that difficult gap.

For more on ways to communicate effectively, take a look at the stories, strategies and guidance on this and other leadership topics in my books How Do You Want To Show Up and the How Do You Want To Show Up Workbook. Both books are available on Amazon.

Praise for How Do You Want To Show Up: “This must-read book teaches critical leadership skills through people stories that keep the pages turning. Readers can use this book to strengthen their self-knowledge and improve communication at work and in the rest of life.” -Marshall Goldsmith, international bestselling author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Triggers

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