The two key words in this blog, “understanding” and “misunderstanding” are rather long in and of themselves, and while they might appear to simply represent opposites, it is actually a lot more complex than that.

The topic is a very important one, in my eyes at least, which is why I have had it on my blog subject list for weeks now, before finally getting up the nerve to make an attempt at adding some valuable insight to this tricky issue.

I don’t remember what book I was reading when the idea of “understanding the misunderstanding” came into my mind, but I do remember that I was struck by the phrase enough to grab a pen and make a note, even though I was walking on a treadmill at the time.

So here goes.

We all go through life looking at things from our own point of view, which we see as the “real world”. And every other person also goes through life seeing things from THEIR point of view, which they in turn see as their “real world”. It is very rare for any two points of view to be 100% the same.

The differences in these points of view are quite often the root causes of differences of opinion, which in turn are the causes of misundertandings.

If and when you actually take the time to try to understand the causes of misunderstandings, you will likely learn a great deal about the differences in how you see the world versus the way the other person sees the world.

Too often, we do not take the time to even notice or acknowledge these different points of view, let alone investigate what lies behind them and have a meaningful conversation about them. But these are the most useful and meaningful discussions we will ever have, especially among family members.

In the context of family members working together in a business, it is very easy to just keep your head down and move through your day without stopping to think or talk about these kinds of things.

But every once in a while, maybe once a week, it is good to set some time aside to make sure that everyone is on the proverbial “same page”, that everyone has a common view of what is on that page, and that everyone has a clear understanding of the roles they are supposed to play.

There really is no good excuse for situations where someone, after weeks or months of working on something, says something like “Oh, I thought you were supposed to take care of that”, or “What? Nobody ever told me that I was supposed to take care of this”.

These examples are clearly the result of at least one misunderstanding, but nobody took the time to even notice them until it was too late.

When you take the time to understand the misunderstandings, you will usually be able to see some patterns in them, and when you come up with a way to address the common misunderstandings, you will go a long way to clarifying everyone’s roles.

Unfortunatley, these things rarely happen by themselves.

What works well is having a regular forum in which one person actually goes out of their way to make sure that the entire group has a common understanding of what their goals are, AND that each person understands what their role is supposed to be. Some people call this “leadership”.

Call it your weekly “Goals and Roles” meeting if that helps you focus, but make sure that you try to understand your misunderstandings to get back on track.