dilbert_misinterpretation.gif“The meaning of any message is the response you receive.”

Huh? What does that mean?

“The meaning of any message is the response you receive” is a principle from NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). The idea is that the REAL meaning of any message you send is NOT what you intend it to mean, but what it means to the person who receives it. That if you intend to take responsibility for the effectiveness of your communication, you will pay attention to how your message is received and interpreted.

The best way to discern how your message is received is to pay attention to how the person responds. At the simplest level, does she look confused? Or does she nod her head in understanding? Does she respond appropriately: If you ask her to pass the salt, do you get the salt?

Miscommunication happens all the time. It has been said “the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” We tend to judge ourselves by the most enlightened possible interpretation of our intentions regardless of the outcome. At times others judge us mainly by outcomes and sometimes attribute lower motives rather than higher.

To avoid communication breakdowns to maintain trust, it behooves those who wish to be effective to continually make a proactive effort to remain aware of how their messages are being received and interpreted.

“The meaning of any message is the response you receive.”