Many of us are familiar with the game of “Chinese whispers”. It's based on the phenomena that a message is passed through a group of people and it changes as people mis-hear what was whispered to them, thereby passing on what they think they heard.
Invariably the message is never the same at the end!
Tragically, one of the most famous casualties of Chinese Whispers occurred during World War One.
The story goes that when a message sent from the trenches to British HQ having started as “Send reinforcements, we’re going to advance” became “Send three and fourpence, we’re going to a dance”.
When we you think about how crucial getting the message right is in our everyday lives, we forget about the consequences. We are often convinced that what we heard our customers say is actually, what was said. So, when misunderstandings happen, we think it must be the other person who got it wrong and never question ourselves.
- How often do we stop and think, did we hear that correctly or even pick the message up wrong?
- How often do we double check our understanding of the message or ask for clarification?
- How often do we realise or even admit that the message changed because we weren’t paying attention and couldn’t remember what was said?
I firmly believe that we all need to stop and ask ourselves these questions from time to time. If we can honestly answer them, we will begin to see the importance of getting the message right. This is important when we communicate with our customers by passing on information. Or whenwe need to stop and actively listen! And when we get it wrong, we need to own it and even apologise.