I’m sure we have all offended someone at one time or another, even if we didn’t mean to. Although we learn how to avoid doing that as we grow up, even adults are prone to making communication mistakes, even if they don’t mean or realise it. To help you recognise these blunders, here’s a list of some of the most common mistakes in communication and how to avoid them.
1) You don’t tailor your conversation to your audiencePeople who are natural communicators tend to alter their speech patterns, the subject, and even their tone according to the person or group they are speaking to. This is especially important in a workplace where you have people with different personalities, skills, and strengths.
For example, if you’re a web designer and are about to give a presentation on the scope of a project, you need to keep in mind that not everyone will understand technical terms and jargon (this article from Financial Post explains why you should always avoid it).
There are some people who mistakenly assume that doling out fancy words and phrases might make them seem smarter. In many cases, however, it has the opposite effect. To avoid falling into this trap, always make sure that what you’re talking about can be easily understood by everyone.
2) You’re interrupting peopleNothing is more annoying than someone interrupting your conversation to say their own thoughts. It doesn’t just irritate and annoy people, but it also shows that you’re impatient, disrespectful, and that you value your own opinion over others’. Although this is one of the most common mistakes people make, it’s also something that can be avoided quite easily.
In most cases, we tend to interrupt others because we have something interesting to add to the conversation, and we’re afraid that the moment will pass and we won’t get to say our thoughts.
Instead of interrupting, however, try to remember what you wanted to say and wait until the other person has finished speaking before saying your own ideas out loud. This shows that you’re thoughtful and are willing to listen, and it also encourages others to listen to you just as patiently.
3) You assume that people understood your pointYou know what they say about assumptions. This is one of the most common reasons behind misunderstandings in both written and spoken communication. Instead of assuming that people understood what you were trying to say and moving on, it’s always wise to ask for confirmation first.
One of the best ways to make sure that people understand your message is to encourage questions and open discussions about the important points. You might think it’s just a waste of time but it actually helps you avoid several misunderstandings in the long run.
4) You’re not open-mindedToday’s workspace is very diverse. There are people from different countries, cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and backgrounds working alongside each other in the same office. People always make assumptions based on these little titbits of information, even if it serves them ill.
Stereotyping can hinder communication and prevent you from developing healthy work relationships. Activia’s Communications Skills course comprehensively addresses this issue and helps you learn how to avoid it.
5) You’re letting your emotions get the best of youWe have all of reacted in anger or frustration at least once in our lives – probably even more frequently. Even calm and habitually controlled people lose their temper from time to time. However, it’s very important to mind what you say or do in such situations. Although you can’t help being frustrated or angry, you can control how you react and the actions that emerge from it.
Reacting emotionally by shouting or sending an angry email is never a good idea. Instead, take a moment to collect your thoughts and consider the issue at hand, and respond thoughtfully. Never respond in anger, because you’ll always end up regretting it.
Are there any common communication mistakes and solutions that you think are important and should be on this list? Make sure to leave a comment below and let us know.