In management, to improve communication we have to consider the context of the other person. Our beliefs are shaped by our life’s experiences and we find it hard to understand how things may look or seem to someone else, through a different lens. Their life experiences may filter the information in a completely different way than the way we intended. The common advice is to walk in someone else’s shoes before we judge them. But is it ever possible to really walk in someone else’s shoes? Even if we do experience identical circumstances, the context in which we will frame that new circumstance, is shaped by a lifetime of unique experiences. Having a starting position that we are right and the other person is wrong is often at the heart of all miscommunication. A different approach is to explain your context - how something looks to you, and then truly try to understand the other person’s context - how it looks to them. Communicating is a two way process. It is explaining what something means to you, and then understanding what that something means to the other person.
In the entitlement case mentioned above - which led to much emotional anguish and even protest marches – if it was explained that supporting a disabled person, or someone who genuinely cannot find work is a legitimate tax expense, and then listening and understanding what entitlement actually meant to voters, this miscommunication could have been averted.