No matter how good people are at communicating with their coworkers, misunderstandings still happen on occasion. And it may lead people to say things like this:

  • I thought it was obvious.
  • It goes without saying.
  • I didn’t know I needed to spell things out.

These miscommunications result from what psychologists call “signal amplification bias.” Basically, we have a tendency to believe that we’ve provided more information than we actually have. We believe we’ve communicated all the necessary details when we actually haven’t.

This is especially true when we’re working with people that we know and have worked with before. We expect these people to know what we’re thinking, anticipate our needs, understand our goals, and read between the lines. Unfortunately, this can often be difficult – even for coworkers who have a long history of working together.

Another problem is jargon. If you tell someone to “circle back to you,” you might believe that you’re being perfectly clear about what you want. But phrases like these can be interpreted in different ways and misunderstandings can often result.

So what’s the solution? Try to avoid the jargon, take the time to spell things out, ask for what you want clearly, and provide all the details. It might seem a little tedious and time consuming, but it’s necessary. It’s the best way to avoid frustrating miscommunications. And if you’re clear about what you want, you’ll be more likely to get it!


Halvorson, H. G. (2011, September 29). Too much miscommunication at work? A simple fix. Forbes. Retrieved from: