If you will show this drawing (taken from “The 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey) to a group, 50 % will say that this is a drawing of a young woman and the other 50% will claim the opposite. And they are both right. They are both right.
I can also ask a group to make a drawing of a flower. It has to be yellow and very long. But if we show each other the drawings, everybody has a different one. Even though I have been absolutely clear about it, right?
These examples show de difference in the frame of reference of people. Je referentiekader is zeg maar ‘de bril waardoor jij de wereld bekijkt’. A frame of reference allows you to perceive at the world in a certain way. And almost everybody has a difference frame of reference. And I believe that this is the essence of (mis)communication.
And now an example at work (that really happened)
A couple of years ago I worked at a company. The company made substantial losses that year. My CEO had said during a meeting with the entire staff: “Next year it has to be all hands on deck”
And how do you think the staff members worked the next day? Was there a change in their behavior? Of course not.
My CEO thought he was absolutely clear about what he had said, but everybody else had no idea what “all hands on deck” exactly meant. Only a few knew of the bad financial state the company was in. My CEO didn’t realize he had a completely different frame of reference. It would have been clearer if he had said: “In the next 3 months I want to see an increase of sales by 10%.”
Don’t just assume everybody understands you perfectly.