Context is everything. Today they mentioned how many golfers were sub-par at the Masters. So in that context the word denotes great scores - a score under par.
I remember the Covey course (from the book" 7 habits of Highly Effective People") the entire Accenture management team was required to take. Habit #5 (and the most important in my opinion) is - "Seek First to Understand - then to be Understood". The visual immediately that comes to mind is the story about two guys on the bench eating cookies (you'll have to read to book to get the whole story).
Seek first to Understand is all about context- what do you mean by Sub-Par? To me Sub-par means...... Clarifying with question, restatement and listening is the key skill set.Sub-par --- Supar--- Super --- Supper - "I'm hungry" Listen carefully :)