Top Communication Mistakes

Almost everything we do requires communication with someone else – employees, co-workers, customers, loved ones.  When we send our message out, we are convinced it is clear and that we are obviously right.  Ha, I say! I think in general we are pretty lousy communicators, and here are the top mistakes we make:

 1. We are in too much of a hurry.  We fire off an e-mail or a text without considering if that was really the best way to communicate this particular issue with this particular person.  We go with what’s easiest for us.  We also respond to things without even having really read them.  Ever get an e-mail response where you asked three questions and the responder only answered two?  Someone’s rushing!

 2.  We are convinced everyone else is just like us.  You hate long e-mail messages – you think everyone does.  You prefer one word e-mails so that’s what you send.  Everyone else thinks you’re a jerk.  You are convinced your point by point detailed review of your spouse’s spending habits will get them to see the light and change their evil ways.  When they hire a hit man, you are shocked.  You only had the family’s best interests in mind.

 3. We get emotional.  We’re only human and the fact that the other humans are too stupid to understand our clear and articulate messages sends us into a rage.  So we send out the same message again, but this time WE ARE FURIOUS and send it harder.  (That always works doesn’t it?)  And it’s not just anger that messes up communication – toss in disappointment, boredom, fear, excitement, etc.  It’s a wonder we can communicate at all.

 4.  We don’t listen.  We are busy thinking of what we are going to say next – how we are going to counter the stupid point this moron is making.  Or what dazzling line we are going to deliver to amaze everyone with our genius.  After all, why would someone else be talking unless it was to hear our response?

 5.  We don’t talk.  We think, “If all these blowhards are so smart, why should I say anything? All they’ll do is tell me why I’m wrong.  Let them ruin the company, bankrupt the family, infect the nation with Ebola.  That will show them.”  Yep – and you.

 6. We don’t learn from our mistakes.  We’ve all had a communication go poorly.  But we seldom step back and think “What did I do wrong?”  Instead we replay everything in our heads justifying our part.  Even worse, we think that given time, the other person will see the light and realize we were right.  Ha!  I say again!  They are busy doing the same thing!  Why do you think we have wars? 

 So what to do?  Somehow I have a feeling no one thinks they need any improvement, so I’ll write these as tips for you to share with all the people you know who need help:

1. Slow down!  Read the e-mail you get.  Review your response.  Consider picking up the phone.  If you are making excuses in your head right now about why this is too much trouble – this tip is for you.

2. Do an assessment to determine your communication style.  Learn about the other styles.  Keep the differences in mind when you are communicating with others.  I do this in my “How to Get Along with Everyone who is Not Me” training.  But you can find information and read up on this.  If you think it’s a waste of time and everyone just needs to get over themselves – this tip is for you.

3. Realize when you or the other person is getting emotional and consider delaying or changing the communication.  Wait till you calm down or pick up the phone or go see them.  You have to deal with the emotions before you can communicate effectively.

4. Extroverts – work on being quiet.  Read articles on listening.  Stop interrupting.

5. Introverts – try to speak up more.  Read articles on assertiveness.  People cannot read your mind, and they expect you to communicate what you need. 

 6. Reflect.  Let your mistakes change you.  There is only one person in a communication you can control.  If something didn’t work, work on changing you.

 Good luck! And know you’re not alone in miscommunicating.  If you were, there wouldn’t be any true crime shows on TV.   

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Phone 919.788.0291

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