What We Have Here is a Failure To Communicate

CEOs, “Cool Hand Luke” & Cribbage

What We Have Here is a Failure To Communicate
“Don’t you ever talk that way to me. NEVER!”

Who can forget the line, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”, from the classic movie, “Cool Hand Luke” (Click image above for movie clip)

To be a success, whether it is in the Boardroom, courtroom, or prison yard, the #1 factor driving your success is your ability to communicate effectively with other individuals. DUH! Tell me something I don’t know. (Ok, ok, give me a few more seconds & I promise this article will be worth your attention.)

CEOs – Leadership, Vision & Understanding

Leadership is all about inspiring others to take action in accomplishing a shared objective. To do so, you must be able to communicate your vision in a way that is both clear & concise. What’s more, you must be able to understand the needs & wants of your team. This can only be accomplished through continuous & effective communication. To be a successful CEO, you must know how to communicate effectively with your team.

Excellent English & Communication Skills

Cool Hand Luke – Listening & Responding

What does the movie “Cool Hand Luke” have to do with communication? Well, other than the famous line, “What we have here is a failure to communicate”, not much, but most Americans have probably heard the phrase & it’s a good reminder that communication is more than just speaking. It’s about UNDERSTANDING.

Unfortunately, many people misunderstand the meaning of “communication”. They think it’s simply about exchanging information, but real communication only takes place when all of the parties involved have the same understanding of what was intended to be conveyed.

This is why so many people miscommunicate. They assume that because they said something, the other person must have understood it correctly. But that’s not always the case. Just because you speak doesn’t mean you’re communicating. And just because you hear doesn’t mean you understand.

To be an effective communicator, you also need to be…….. a good listener. You need to be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes & see things from their perspective. Only then will you be able to ensure that they understand what you’re trying to say.

IT Staff Augmentation

Cribbage – Non-verbal Communication

What does a card game played with a board have to do with communication? The answer, everything.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner

Not long ago I was playing cribbage with a good friend, Bill, and we were enjoying a few cocktails. (His wife makes a great Margarita🍸) Now, we’d been playing cribbage for many years & it was always a good way to while away the time & have some fun. Well, on this occasion, for some reason, we had a bit of a kerfuffle. Unbeknownst to me, I had somehow forgotten how to properly count my points.

As I said, we were playing cribbage when Bill says, “Dude, you’re counting your points wrong”

“What do you mean I’m counting my points wrong? I’ve been counting my points this way for years & you never said anything before”, I replied.

And for 20 minutes we very politely discussed how big of an idiot I was for counting my points wrong. Finally, being the problem solver that I am, I said, “Let’s play another hand & we’ll figure out what’s going on.”

Now, this was a very curious situation. Bill & I had been playing this very simple card game for over 20 years & only now we’re having a problem? Bill is a super sharp guy, so why is he bringing up this issue only now? I didn’t get it.

Now, Bill & I have about as similar a background as you can get. He’s a brilliant engineer who has succeeded wildly on many amazing projects. We were both born & raised in Silicon Valley, went to rival high schools before university & our cultural influences are essentially identical. To top things off, our careers have been in tech, so what’s going on?!

So, we played another hand & when I started to count the points in my hand Bill exclaimed, “There! Right there, that’s what you’re doing wrong!” I replied, “What are you talking about, I have 15 points in my hand (we counted them to confirm) & I moved my peg 15 holes. I had 25 points + 15 points = 40 points, so how is that wrong?”

It was then that we both realized how we had miscommunicated about a very simple activity we had been enjoying for 20+ years. Bill was linearly counting his points, meaning one at a time, while I had just jumped to the correct score (25+15=40) using the reference marks every 5 points. This was the miscommunication?! How silly! Of course, we may have also enjoyed a few Margaritas! 🎯

Communication Breakdown

The moral of the story is this, if two good friends, both with good intent, who have been doing the same, very simple thing for years can suffer a communication breakdown, you can bet your life it will happen in any relationship, personal or professional. It is inevitable. This is especially true the more complex a scenario, i.e., marriage, children, legal issues, a software engineering project, etc.

Ending All Miscommunication

Eliminating all communication breakdowns is impossible, but we can take steps to minimize them. The first & most important is to always remember that communication is a two-way street. It requires both parties to be active participants, not just the person doing the talking. Secondly, we must try to understand the message from the other person’s perspective. Third, & by no means a final step, is the parties must be of good intent.

Transparent Communications

It has always been my practice to supply all the available information to the other parties as soon as possible, both personal & professional. My family, friends, clients, etc., all have a lot of investment in our relationships & they need to be able to make intelligent, informed decisions for any relationship to be mutually beneficial.

What We Have Here is a Failure To Communicate

We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to connect with people. Social media has made it possible for us to connect & work with people all over the world & with new opportunity comes new challenges.

Effective communication is a major challenge when engaging with engineering resources from different countries. If you’ve used offshore or nearshore resources you know that technical English is not the only challenge. The cultural differences can be major, i.e. Low Context Communication Cultures vs. High Context Cultures, business practices, time zones, etc. If you would like to know more about how to proactively reduce your risk of miscommunication when working with international engineering teams, please reach out to Cloud App Developers, LLC. We have a lot of experience in this area & are happy to guide & assist you on your offshore engineering journey. Thank you!

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