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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Miss Communication conquers miscommunication

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Barb Mayfield miscommunication speech

Have you ever been misunderstood? Or misinterpreted?

Have you ever relayed a message with a mistake or a misprint?

Have you ever mispronounced or misspelled a word?

Oh, my! There are SO many ways we can miscommunicate!

What harm results from miscommunication?

Consider the harmful effects of miscommunication:

  1. Miscommunication is responsible for one-third of all project failures according to a study conducted by the Project Management Institute. (1)

  2. Miscommunication is one of the top reasons for all relationship failures. (2)

  3. And, it is cited as the #1 reason people quit a job. (3)

What are common ways we miscommunicate?

To have a little fun presenting about conquering miscommunication, I have created 10 contestants who compete for the title of “Mis-Communication” – with audiences “voting” on which one presents the biggest challenge to their communication efforts.

The 10 Miscommunication Contestants are:

Miss Understanding – AKA “What you said and what I thought you said are NOT the same.”

Miss Perception – AKA “Did I hear or read that correctly?”

Miss Conception – AKA “Contagious falsehoods… because they are so common.”

Miss Information – AKA “Not making sure what you said is what you meant to say.”

Miss Interpretation – AKA “Not getting enough information to know what is meant.”

Miss Aligned – AKA “Not speaking the same language, even if it is all English.”

Miss Spelled – AKA “The typo.”

Miss Taken – AKA “The message is wrong, often without the sender or receiver even realizing the error.”

Miss Pronounce – AKA “I really don’t know this word, so I’m going to make it obvious by the way I say it.”

Miss Print – AKA “Autocorrect.”

Our bonus contestant is Mr. E – AKA “A mystery… no communication.”

Previous blogs have introduced Miss Understanding and Miss Aligned.

Which forms of miscommunication challenge YOU most?

I recently presented this talk to the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Maryland Academy. Which types of miscommunication did attendees say they struggle with the most? Which one(s) on the list challenge YOU most?

Interestingly, the same three choices were the top picks in both states.

In Massachusetts, Miss Perception and Miss Interpretation tied for first place, with Miss Understanding a close second. In Maryland, Miss Understanding was the front runner, with Miss Perception and Miss Interpretation in a close tie for second.

When the results were combined between states, Miss Understanding came in 1st, Miss Perception 2nd, and Miss Interpretation 3rd.

These three variations of miscommunication are closely related. These results illustrate that we struggle with sending and receiving messages in which both sender and receiver give the same meaning to a message.

The communication breakdown can be in word choice, intonation, and expression, and overall not making sure we are “on the same page.”

After the pageant, the presentation discussed 10 characteristics of “words that work” to conquer miscommunication and create winning communication. Learn these strategies to conquer miscommunication.

Here’s what one attendee had to say:

“Knowing how we miscommunicate can help us learn to communicate better and improve our communication skills.” ~ Bobbie Barron, RD, LDN, Senior Research Dietitian Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine




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