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"You Took It the Wrong Way!"

     Accountability in communications is often overlooked as an important part of relating to other people.  Far too infrequently do we hold ourselves responsible for what we say and how it is conveyed to others.  How often have you said or heard somebody say, "Well, you took it the wrong way?"  Have you considered:  You gave it the wrong way.  Saying someone else took what you said the wrong way takes the onus off of you as the speaker and places the burden on the listener to figure out what you're saying.  No one should be put in the position of trying to interpret what you're saying or speculate about what you meant.  If you are clear in your communications, then people should be able to know what you meant with accuracy.  There should be little doubt and little room for misunderstanding.  Therefore, since you are the speaker, it is your responsibility to make sure you are choosing your words with others in mind.  You should be thoughtful in difficult conversations and specific in your delivery.  Hold yourself accountable and don't cop out on others by blaming them for misunderstanding you.
     For example, instead of questioning someone's integrity by saying, "You're not being honest about what's going on in this department," you may want to think about how that sounds.  What it says to the other person is that you think they are lying.  You're basically saying you can't trust them.  And maybe you feel you can't because you don't feel like they're giving you the full story about happenings you think you need to know.  However, to tell someone they are not being honest is akin to calling someone a liar.  Is that your intent?  If it's not, then you want to choose another word--like transparent.  To say, "I don't feel there's enough transparency in this department" is more diplomatic and less judgmental.  First of all, you didn't accuse the person of not being transparent by saying the word "you".  Avoiding the accusation:  "You're not being transparent with us about what's going on in this department" does not erect a wall of resistance that usually comes when a person feels like they're being unjustly blamed for something.  By using the word "transparent", you're saying you don't feel enough information is shared.  Not that you think somebody's lying but that you want to be kept in the loop on things you think are important for you to know.  That's far different and a lot less threatening than pointing a figurative finger at the other person.

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