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Communications Mistakes

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw


How do your employees or coworkers perceive you and the job you do?

Perception is reality – and that depends on the way you communicate.

Handle it well, and you’ll earn trust and respect, build bridges, and make friends as well as teammates. But ignore the finer points of effective communication, and the opposite will be true.

Great communication is like playing the piano or shooting under par on the golf course. Some people are naturally better at it than others, but anyone can learn to do it better.

Business leaders and entrepreneurs need to communicate well, and although communicating well is not always easy, it’s an acquired skill that you can – and should – learn and practice.

Communicate Better

Communicating well builds the essential ingredient of any successful team—trust.

So, take the time to establish clear expectations around how you and your team are communicating. Then, discuss where it’s working best and when your communications break down.  Then work to fix it.

Here is a list of common communication mistakes that most people need to work on.

  1. Assuming Mal-Intent

Not everything is intentional, so don’t let an innocent oversight like being left off an email or out of a meeting degrade trust. Instead, save yourself the angst (and drama) by going straight to the source and asking to be included—by clearing the air before it gets clouded with assumptions.

  1. Hiding Behind Email

Email is fast and easy — but rarely effective for meaningful communication.

Never assume “they got the memo,” and your work is done. Please don’t use email as a way to communicate bad news or as a way to escalate over a peer’s head by copying their boss. Email’s a great supporting tool, but it seldom plays well as the lead medium.

  1. Failure to Write Down Decisions

High-trust teams will often raise many creative ideas, debate pros and cons, then challenge the decisions some more. With all that discussion, team members each leave with their own memory of the decision, which may or may not match the recall of other team members.

Writing down and reading back crucial decisions and next steps is a critical way to keep everyone moving in the same direction.

  1. Wasteful Meetings

Only hold a meeting if you’re looking to accomplish one of two things: to make decisions and/or to improve relationships.

If you’re looking to dump information or share simple updates, save everyone the time and put it in an email or post it some other way.

  1. Spin

Nothing will make people tune out faster than smelling BS. If you want people to listen genuinely, be sure they can believe what you say. A culture of honest communication can only happen when people can count on one another for candor.

Encourage transparency and truth-telling, starting at the very top.

  1. Boring Packaging

If you want people to listen, speak in an interesting way. Tell meaningful stories. Ditch the 35-page PowerPoint deck and explain why your project really matters.

  1. Inept Listening

Imagine the possibilities if more managers listened to their people with the attitude of caring and interest.

The Bible

The two most important types of communication are between man and God and between human beings.

Communication is more than just our ability to talk, but also to listen. As we communicate with God, the first part of that communication is listening. God’s primary ways of communication with us are through His Word (Romans 10:17) and by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).

Furthermore, the Bible teaches us the basic three rules of communication.

First, is what we say true?  Exodus 20:16 says.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Second, is what you are communicating kind?  Titus 3:2 says.

“to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”

And third, is what you are communication necessary?  Proverbs 11:22 says.

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”

Avoiding communication mistakes is relatively simple.  Fixing them after they are made is much more difficult. 

Follow the advice of the Bible and be secure in your communication abilities.