Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

I would like to paraphrase a famous quote by writer Robert Louis Stevenson: “Don’t COMMUNICATE merely to be understood. COMMUNICATE so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”


It is my opinion that so many successes and failures, both large and small, in life, in work, in families, can be attributed to either excellent or poor and unclear communication. How much better would things be if everyone concentrated just a little bit harder on communicating…speaking, writing, texting, emailing…more precisely.

Look at the difference between these two questions:

  1. Is that job going to be ready today?


  1. Is the business card job for Jasmine at Under Armour going to be ready by 2 pm today? Jasmine is sending Fred, her assistant by to pick it up between 3 and 5 pm today, and I’d like to send her an email confirming the pickup details.

Fleshing out your communications with as many details as possible, and as few pronouns as you are able, will cut down on errors and problems. What if the person I was speaking with in #1 above thought I was referring to a different job. Fred might show up at 3 and the cards might not be ready. Unacceptable!

Once you begin peppering your communications with as many details as are needed in order to be perfectly clear and have no possible chance of being misunderstood (but not too much unnecessary or extraneous information that will bog your listener down), I think you will find things will run much more smoothly, both at work and personally. Expectations will be clear and unequivocal. There will be no chance for excuses or rationalizations. All are on the same page. And you won’t have to feel like Eric Burdon, begging to not be misunderstood…

About the author

I am a third generation printer, and a second generation owner of Curry Printing. Ink (pms 185!) must run through my veins! As a "working owner," I am at Curry every day, working in and on my business. The old adage is true...if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life!

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