5 Communication Mistakes Guaranteed to Rock the Boat

4 min. read

After all, what’s NOT a communication issue these days?

Why your boss said you didn’t get the promotion. 

Why other departments complain about your team. 

Why the team feels in the dark.

So, what does “it’s a communication issue” mean anyway.

At its core, communication is how we engage each other. 

The intent is to open up and shorten the distance between people. To connect.

To tune in. 

To understand.

The Communication Dance

Communication … it takes two to tango: a sender and a receiver.

If, I, as the sender, want to engage you in a certain way, my message (what I do or say or write or express) and how I communicate it have to convey that particular intent.

The receiver, on the other hand, not only has to hear it, but has to hear it in the way the message was intended.

This is where it gets complicated.

In far too many situations than we’d like to admit, communication can look like a field full of land mines between what you “send” and what is “received.”  

Your best bet is to avoid getting into those predicaments in your communication in the first place.

Perhaps easier said than done!

However, to support that pursuit, I present to you:

The 5 Completely Preventable Communication Land Mines

(including moments that mess you up and make others feel like you are messing with them)

1. Over-reliance on email

Email is good for conveying information, but for everything else – like having a normal conversation – it’s second rate. Email is one-way communication, easily misinterpreted, and easy to hide behind.

“Hey, Dr. Patterson. You don’t have to come in to work on Monday. Or ever for that matter. Have a nice day.”

And don’t get me started on “reply all.”

Virtual meetings fit into this mix as well. Check out the podcast link below for an expansion on that topic.

Check out the following podcast episode:

Alan Patterson and guest, Kelly Norton, discuss two critical modern-day communication vehicles that are used, misused, and abused. Email … which enables us to write dissertation-size messages, solve problems, start wars, and spread rumors with just a few clicks of the keys. And, our dependence on virtual meetings…

2. Saying stuff like “I know how you feel” or “you don’t understand”

These are feeble attempts to close the distance and show empathy, but they can easily piss people off.

“You know how I feel? No f…ing way.

“ I don’t understand? How about you understand this.”

Why not just say,” “that’s really sad” and “I’m so sorry”  or “I don’t think I’m explaining things clearly” or “you look like you have some questions.”  

Drop the psychobabble. Just tune in and listen. Close the distance, not increase it.

And don’t get me started with “I feel your pain.”

 3. “No news is good news”

I don’t know where this assumption comes from.

I think it’s when people say something like, “if you don’t hear from me, everything is ok.” 

Hell no, it’s not ok. No news is bad news. So just contact me and let me know how things are going. Is that such a big deal?

4. Speaking at the level of understanding of the audience

Ever been in a meeting where some Bill Brainiac was giving a presentation and the audience had no idea what he was talking about? 

Is this guy clueless? 

Definitely disrespectful. 

Didn’t learn what Plato said about knowing your audience. 

Oh, and very rude. I can smell his ego from here.

5. When what you say or do don’t line up

It’s a cliche but “walk the talk people.” In all ways. When you attempt to write something that doesn’t sound like you, isn’t you, not even close to how you talk, you’re messing with people. 

People don’t like to be messed with. It’s instantaneous inconsistency. 

Kids and pets pick up on it right away. So do your co-workers. 

It sounds insincere, and it corrodes trust. Don’t be one of those people who says one thing then does another.

What you communicate, how you communicate, and why you communicate have everything and nothing to do with you.

I know, it’s hard to wrap your brain around that one. Trust me – it’s not that difficult.

If you can walk away with anything from this, remember this: Communication is not about whether other people get you. It’s about whether you get other people.