top of page
  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

That isn’t what I meant!

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Drawing of woman names Miss Information who says one thing but means another.
One of 11 personas depicting miscommunication. What Miss Information says isn't always what they mean.

Have you ever needed to say "That isn't what I meant!"?

We all have. We have all been like Miss Information.

Who is Miss Information?

Miss Information – AKA not making sure what you said is what you meant to say…

Like the wife who asks her husband, “Can you pick up a gallon of milk? And if they have eggs, get a dozen?”

When she gets home she sees 12 gallons of milk in the fridge and asks “Why?!”

He replied, “Because they had eggs.”

Have you ever conveyed Miss Information?

Where does Miss Information show up?

Are you a parent? Have you ever asked your child if they wanted to do something when what you really meant was “Do it!

Miss Information is sure to show 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. As a general term, it is used for several ways we convey the wrong information.

When I created my miscommunication personas, I differentiated between Miss Information, which is usually unintentional, and Miss Conception, which is more often purposefully misleading.

Miss Information generally results from a lack of careful planning of what to communicate and how. The partner in this crime is Miss Interpretation, which is when the receiver fails to make sure what is communicated is what was intended.

Misinformation is a common type of miscommunication in healthcare. It can occur between patient and caregiver as well as within the healthcare team. It can also occur when we relay information from a healthcare source to friends and family.

Consider how important it is to be absolutely clear and accurate when a member of the healthcare team conveys information to the next person to handle a job. According to the Joint Commission, “an estimated 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers during the transfer of patients.” (1)

What is the solution? How can we avoid conveying misinformation?

Follow these two best practices:

1. Think before communicating. Carefully consider your word choice.

2. Confirm messages are correctly received and understood. Summarize information or action steps to confirm agreement in understanding.

Miss Information is one of 11 characters I created to describe different ways we miscommunicate. A close cousin is Miss Understanding.

Would you agree that putting a name and a face on each miscommunication “villain” makes it more fun to conquer these foes? Read this post listing all 11 types of miscommunication.

I created a quiz to help you identify your miscommunication “arch-nemesis.” You can find a link to the quiz on my website at the top of the home page. Take the quiz to identify your miscommunication challenges. Put the solutions into practice and improve your communication skills!

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” ~ Robert McCloskey, author of Make Way for Ducklings

If you like this content, please share it:

44 views0 comments



bottom of page