“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

– George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright

495Image from Flickr by garryknight.

Imagine that you have just had what you believe to be a highly successful conversation with someone in either your personal or professional life. You are absolutely positive that your communication to the other person was crisp and clear in every detail, and that you listened to each and every nuance that was spoken …

… only to find that it was all an illusion.

What went wrong and how can you improve the odds of success in the future?


Try the following four-step technique the next time you absolutely need to be sure that your communication is as effective as possible.

1. Be clear about what each of you wish to achieve before you start.

2. Listen even more intently to be sure you understand what the other person is saying. Be sure to share your understanding before you move on to the other points which you wish to make, by asking better questions that demonstrate your sincere interest.

3. Determine which mode of communication is optimal for results you desire. Today we have email, text, social media, phone, video and of course face-to-face to choose from – all of which have their benefits and their challenges. To increase your odds of success, consider doubling or triple communicating using multiple channels – and pay particular attention to the channel your conversational partner prefers.

4. Finally, take responsibility for all communications being successful by putting yourself in the position of your partner, so that they as well as you achieve the desired results.