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

Can miscommunication be overcome? Yes! When we name who's to blame.

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

11 images of characters depicting various types of miscommunication
Miscommunication wears many faces, let's name them!

Have you ever…

… been misunderstood?

… sent a message that was misinterpreted?

… published a post on social media and later realized it had a mistake or a misprint?

It happens to all of us! Miscommunication is everywhere!

Can miscommunication be overcome?

Yes! I believe it can. And, to help us overcome miscommunication, I have given names to some of the most common culprits. Would you agree that it is easier to fight a named villain than an abstract concept?

In the graphic above you can see the characters that I created to describe many of the ways we miscommunicate. In my signature speech, these characters compete for the title of “Mis-Communication.” I also created a free quiz in which you can identify YOUR arch-nemesis. Click the link at the top of the blog page or home page to get your copy.

Let’s name who’s to blame…

Because it's easier to fight a foe with a name, here are the names and descriptions for each character pictured above. Click on the links to get to know the characters more. Stay tuned for future posts introducing the remaining characters.

Miss Understanding, shows up when what you said and what I thought you said are NOT the same. Much like the classic Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First” routine. After all, senders and receivers don’t always attribute the same meaning to the same words.

Miss Perception, is that pesky problem when a text or email message is not received in the way it was intended… because feelings are difficult to convey with words or emojis.

Miss Conception can also be called “contagious falsehoods,” which sound true but are so very false. Fake news headlines fall in this category. Unfortunately, misconceptions spread like crazy and can cause plenty of damage.

Miss Information shows up when you don’t make sure what you said (or wrote) is what you meant to say. Like the sign that reads, “Dog for Sale. Eats anything and is fond of children.” Misinformation is so popular that named it their 2018 word of the year.

Miss Information is the fault of the sender, but Miss Interpretation is largely the fault of the receiver and happens when someone doesn’t make sure they get enough information to understand the message.

Miss Aligned is when we don’t speak the same language, even if it’s all English. Speaking “nutritionese” (nutrition jargon) can be at fault, or using colloquialisms, like “drive me up the wall” or “spill the beans,” or worst of all, poorly translated English for non-English speakers.

Miss Spelled is otherwise known as the typo, which can be a cover-up for ignorance. Like the school sign advertising “Leteracy Night.” Or the one “Congradulating the spelling bee winners.” At least those aren’t misspelled tattoos, those regrets are permanent.

Miss Taken is when the message is wrong, without the sender or receiver even realizing it. This sometimes happens when messages get passed from one source to another, like the childhood game of telephone.

Miss Pronounce is when someone really doesn’t know the word and makes it obvious to those who do. Like the speaker who showed she was not from Arizona by the way she pronounced “Tuck-son.” Children are so cute when they mispronounce words, adults, not so much.

Miss Print, is another name for autocorrect. The result is similar to Miss Spelled, but we get to share the blame with technology.

And, not to leave out the male gender, meet Mr. E, a mystery, when there’s no reply, no response, no communication. Silence isn’t always golden.

What other types of miscommunication come to mind? Here are 10 more for honorable mention:

Honorable mention: Also Known As:

Miss Spoken: “I didn’t intend for that to come out of my mouth!”

Miss Nomer: “That isn’t what that word means.”

Miss Placed: “I think I lost what I was trying to say.”

Miss Demeanor: “Your bad attitude is showing.”

Miss Directed: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Miss Behave: “What you said may get you in trouble.”

Miss Represent: Ill-prepared and unprofessional

Miss Construe: Miss Interpretation’s cousin

Miss Guided: The even-more gullible relative of Miss Conception

Miss Ellaneous: Any other type of miscommunication you can think of! Can miscommunication be overcome? Yes! When we name who's to blame.

“Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.” ~ Freeman Teague, Jr.

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