16 Classic Communication Mistakes


Honest conversations can enhance trust and mutual respect. We all have stories about tough advice or conversations that we now see as gifts that have significantly changed our lives, even if they were painful at the time. By avoiding these 16 common mistakes, your communications should be more beneficial to all parties.

1. Letting a detrimental problem continue and grow into something overwhelming that causes damage to the relationship/workplace.
2. Not making time to address problems promptly because you, or they, are too busy.
3. Not being aware that the attributes or actions that are driving you crazy in trying to communicate with the other person are ones that apply to you as well.
4. Acting out of anger, especially if you are in a public setting.
5. Over-rehearsing what you are going to say, instead of communicating.
6. Not encouraging questions or being open to hearing the other side of the story.
7. Assuming you already understand another person’s feelings and motives before they’ve expressed them to you.
8. Being combative instead of respecting the other person’s viewpoint.
9. Oversimplifying, or over-complicating the problem.
10. Allowing the other person to push you into being aggravated.
11. Not identifying and sticking to the pertinent facts.
12. Making the discussion personal.
13. Not seeing the “big picture” from a company perspective, to understand how the problem may be affecting business operations and income, which impacts everyone involved.
14. Continually complaining without looking for, or offering, constructive solutions.
15. Losing sight of your goals in the communication.
16. Not learning from your communication mistakes.

There are no guarantees that your efforts at communication will always be successful. You might not be able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. As a business owner and an employer, you may need to stand your ground if your communication with an employee is ineffective, despite your best efforts. Have a fallback plan of action. At the end of the day, the success of your business is your responsibility.

You may also be interested in the previous article entitled, Stop Avoiding Difficult Conversations. Look for upcoming articles entitled, What Can You Do When Communication Fails? and Active Listening Techniques for more ideas on how to better handle difficult communication.

Adam Irby