Unintended offending communication

Last week I wrote about “Effective leadership behaviors” and made the parallel with the leadership behavior in the UK with regards to the Brexit development. In my newsletters and workshops, I always emphasize the importance of communication and the need to be careful, as others might come from a different situation and perceive your communication different than intended.

Last week’s newsletter clearly was such a situation. I wrote “following these [Brexit] developments can be somewhat amusing”. I wrote this sentence from the perspective of an outsider. However, I never realized that it might offend people; until Gill from the UK responded. Responding from an involved, and somewhat worried, perspective, Gill wrote that she felt that I “stepped a little over the mark” this time.

It was obviously not my intention to offend anyone. So I offered my apologies to Gill in my response email, which led to a short conversation about how we view the Brexit situation from both angles.

Later in the week, I facilitated a workshop, where the importance of communication was raised a couple of times. As I do more often, I emphasized the importance of communication as “communicate, communicate, communicate, and when you think you have communicated, communicate again.” Also, I mentioned that one should always validate their communication and keep other perspectives in mind.

When writing my newsletter last week, I forgot about the latter part. As a result of Gill’s email, I changed the online version of the newsletter to “following these developments can, from the outside, be somewhat amusing”.

In case I offended more people with this sentence in last week’s newsletter, then I offer you my sincere apologies. It was not my intention to do so.

Sometimes we need to make mistakes to experience our own lessons again. I hope my lesson shows you how sensitive communication sometimes can be. You never know what the situation at the receiving end of your communication is. So if your communication is of essential nature, do consider it twice before communicating!


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