5 Communication Mistakes We All Make

I am sure we all watch TV news talk shows. One common thing that we all observe is the lack of patience people demonstrate during these shows either through raising their voice, interrupting others participants and anchors or at times losing their cool. We must be thinking why all this happens?

Now let’s relate this behaviour with the people whom we interact with in our daily lives at home and at workplace. We can find similar characters here too. This primarily happens while getting into difficult conversations. However, this issue still remains to attract our serious attention.

Remember, an effective communicator remains open and honest to address issues as soon as they arise rather than avoiding or prolonging important discussions. Perhaps you dread telling your children about your cancer diagnosis or don’t want to hurt your spouse by revealing an important news relating your job loss. Whatever the topic, avoiding difficult conversations only makes matters worse long term. Tension can build and you may end up bringing the issue up at the wrong time, which could create additional conflict. Withholding information can create distance between you and the other person. You also run the risk that the person will receive the information from a third party first. Related article: Conversation — The key that unlocks just everything.

Here are five common communication problems and mistakes we all make in our lives:

1. Don’t listen half-heartedly

Some people hear but they not listen. At times, people pretend to be doing fifty things simultaneously including checking their cellphones multiple times, looking at their computer, or even daydreaming about something else and showing off as they are extremely pressed against time, yet they are giving you a favour for this very conversation.

When we don’t actively listen to the person we are speaking to, not only do we run the risk of making the person feel invalidated, but we also miss important nonverbal cues and may not fully understand the person’s message.

To avoid communication mishaps, please avoid convening such meetings when you cannot concentrate. It is best to hold these meetings when you can give the speaker 100% of your attention. asking clarifying questions, and remaining engaged. Effective listening skills include making an eye contact, show some empathy, extend a helping hand to your colleague or employee who you are holding this meeting with.

2. Don’t draw conclusion on your own

Please don’t assume that you know the message before the other person finishes. We’ve all done it. We’re listening to a friend speak, and we already assume we know what is going to be said before they finish their sentence.

When we assume we know what the person will say, we miss what is actually being said. Honor the speaker by remaining openly curious through your body language, eye contact and even at times, sit at the edge of your chair, letting your colleague know that you are immensely interested in his conversation. Related article: Speak Less and Listen More.

3. Don’t interrupt the speaker

We’ve probably all interrupted another person midsentence once or twice or several times. It can happen accidentally, or we may get so excited about what we want to say and fear we will forget our response if we don’t just go ahead and say it. Others may interrupt during arguments as a power move. This mostly happens at the senior leadership level where juniors dare not to interrupt you.

Whatever the intention, interrupting can make a person feel invalidated, as if what they have to say is unimportant. Have respect for the other person, and allow them to finish the message entirely before you respond.

4. Don’t ignore cultural differences

As we all keep talking about that world has shrunk and has emerged as a global village. So, don’t just say it, practice it every day. We all work for and with people from several continents. Let’s be sensitive to this aspect of globalisation.

Cross-cultural communication can be difficult. Words can take on different meanings, and cultural norms surrounding nonverbal communication may vary. When communicating with people from other cultural backgrounds, it’s important to account for cultural differences in communication styles. If we don’t, we may accidentally offend or miscommunicate with someone.

5. Don’t be indirect

In employee townhalls meetings, some leaders communicate vague messages. Employees, in turn, stay confused as who he/she was talking about.

Confront the people who are trouble makers separately and don’t communicate very subtle and/or indirect in communication in large townhalls that is usually ineffective. We can’t expect other people to read our minds. If you want someone to understand you, try being direct and try not to “beat around the bush” in conversation.

Last Word

Communication problems are the number one reason couples split up, with 65% of couples citing this issue as the primary cause of divorce, according to a 2013 survey. But it’s not only romantic relationships that are affected by communication issues — they are often at the root of conflicts in our everyday lives.

Perhaps we fail to say what we mean, or we misinterpret the words of another. Whatever the blunder, we could all benefit from recognizing our communication mistakes and turning them into communication skills.

Relationship, couple, and marriage and family therapists can help individuals, couples, and families learn how to improve communication skills by addressing their issues and offering solutions for more effective communication. If you are experiencing communication problems in your relationships or just need some relationship advice, consider seeing a therapist.

Learn how sometimes smaller things in our lives make huge impact and you can take some learnings on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and on our official website. Also follow us on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.

C-Level HR, Transformation Leader, Board Advisor, Writer, Business Coach & Organisational Consultant