Avoiding Biggest Volunteer Mistakes: Miscommunication
No one likes playing “he said, she said.” Not knowing what’s going on or harboring unspoken expectations can lead to loads of drama. Not paying attention and ignoring directions will not only create unnecessary tension, but it can also create safety hazards. There’s no need to stress out on your volunteer team over a lack of communication, especially when there’s an easy fix.
Here’s our advice on combating miscommunication during your volunteer trip:
Listen and Repeat
We all learned this in kindergarten. When someone is talking, it’s important to listen, not only because it’s respectful, but it will make the speaker feel important. By listening, you can avoid future misunderstandings. Besides, there are many benefits for speaking less and listening more.
To reinforce if you were actively listening, it’s helpful to repeat the main points of what was shared. This lets the speaker know you were paying attention and understood what was shared. Repeating what was shared also helps you recall the information later.
Expectations can either motivate or incapacitate, depending on if they are shared or not. By communicating how you think plans will pan out, your teammates can either hop on board or share differing ideas. Discussing expectations will minimize the risks of disappointment and frustration. After all, like-mindedness is the surest way to keep your team moving forward–in the same direction.
Write it Down
Don’t want to rely on your memory? We don’t blame you. Write down any important information in a place you won’t lose it. Having it on hand will prevent miscommunication down the road.
Having printed documents of important information, like your passport and itinerary, can also come in handy. That way you can have important information on hand without constantly asking your trip leader.
Miscommunication on your volunteer trip is easily avoided when you remain observant, share your thoughts, and ask questions along the way. By listening, discussing expectations, and keeping written account of important information, you can stay informed and enjoy your time volunteering abroad.