Note this is a two-part blog. The first part written at one time, from one perspective, then the second part written after something else had happened to change the perspective.
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The problem with that definition, isn’t that it isn’t true, but that it sometimes takes a hard knock upside the head to realize that you are doing the same thing over and over again. Circumstances can make you think you are doing different things, and not recognize the common theme within them that has you using the same pattern to yield the same result.
I uncovered this recently in my attempts to resolve miscommunication. I have blogged, rather spectacularly, the miscommunication with my dental receptionist and how my discovery of a technological goof that left both sides with a different memory of what had last been communicated — nothing that was the fault (no blame) of either side — had ended up with the receptionist deeply offended at my conduct, and kicking me out of the office, trying to place the blame for this incident squarely on me, rather than skip the need for blame and resolve the actual medical issue at hand.
What I haven’t talked about is a second incident that occurred recently. While dealing with someone at a temporary employment agency a similar miscommunication occurred. He offered what we thought were three confirmed positions for work the next week, for which each of us would receive communication about pre-job screening tests.
What he actually offered was to put our names into a pool of people being considered for the jobs. So when we didn’t hear anything after three days, and the job was to start the next day, we asked where the e-mail with the information on the screening test was. He said he would send them. Only one of us got the e-mail, because he had reduced the pool down to one, but we hadn’t understood that yet. So we spent five more hours trying to correspond to him that day asking for the other e-mails, until it was finally clarified to us that only one of us was in consideration for the jobs.
So after I got done with my screening, it was after work hours, and I called him on his cell number to explain how we had spent hours trying to track him down, wasting both his time and ours, when if the communication had been clearer we could have saved both of us time and effort that could have been used more constructively for both of us. We wanted to figure out how to prevent such a misunderstanding in the future.
Instead we were accused of trying to place the blame on him for our losing time trying to find jobs elsewhere. Once again, our attempt to resolve a miscommunication, that required no placing of blame, turned into a strident need for the other party to place blame on us, in this latter case blaming us for trying to blame him, while we were NOT trying to blame him for anything, but figure out how we misunderstood in the first place.
The part of this that is driving me insane, is trying to understand what is wrong with my original thesis: Why is the placing of blame so important in these situations? Or what am I doing that makes the counter-parties so intent on having conflict and placing blame? Should I be going into confrontations with the intent of placing blame on the other party in order to find no-fault no-blame resolutions? Is expecting to find no-fault communication errors itself a communication error?
The surprising part is the next morning we went all prepared to discuss the situation with the agency guy, and he was apologizing for the miscommunication, and everything worked out all right. So I wasn’t insane, at least not for this reason. Misunderstanding was clarified as it is supposed to be. No-fault communication resolution does have a viable future.