The way you communicate has a big impact on the way people see you. In fact, if you’re currently making any of the communication mistakes below you could be preventing yourself from reaching your full potential both at work and in your personal life.
Let’s take a look at nine communication mistakes that you’ll definitely want to avoid.
1. Letting your emotions evoke an impulsive response
Sometimes strong emotions can cause us to react in the moment in an unhelpful way. They can cause us to say something impulsively that aren’t a true reflection of our beliefs or values.
While we can’t help the emotions we feel, we can learn to control our responses to them. With practice, you can teach yourself to slow down, correctly identify your emotions as they arise and prevent them from impacting negatively on the way you communicate.
2. Using language that makes you sound uncertain
Small phrases can make a big difference on the impact your communication has. For example, “I think” holds less weight and self-confidence than “I believe”, and “I might” is way less powerful than “I will.” Try to be more mindful about where you may be undermining yourself and avoid filler words such as “like” and “um” too often.
3. Saying too little
While we know what’s going on in our heads, sometimes we forget to let other people in on what we’re thinking. As a result, we make can leave gaps between what we say and what our intentions are which leads to misinterpretation. Another pitfall of saying too little is when we can’t pluck up the courage to share important thoughts and opinions.
4. Saying too much
“Wise people speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” –Plato
With so much information available to us these days, you may notice that people have fairly short attention spans. If you want them to stay engaged in what you are saying, then make every word count. If you have a point you want to make, then try to get to it and be concise in your explanation. Topic jumping and talking for so long that it starts to sound like a stream of consciousness won’t hold peoples’ attention for long.
5. Not connecting on a personal level
Whether you’re delivering a presentation to a room full of people or communicating one-to-one, you need to ensure that you think carefully about your audience when delivering your message. Why does what you’re saying matter to them?
6. Assuming you’ve communicated well
People have a natural tendency to overestimate how well other people understand what they say and what they mean according to a Stanford study. Because of this, we would all benefit from slowing down and ensuring that we properly get our ideas across. You can gauge the other person’s body language, responses and questions to see how well you are communicating.
7. Trying too hard to convince them
If you want to win someone around to your way of thinking, it’s important not to go too hard with a persuasion attack. By nature, people are reactive, and they are likely to shut down if you hammer them with critical opinions and comments. You’ll have more success if you share key ideas, examples and stories and allow them to come to their own opinion.
8. Using the wrong tone
Different scenarios require different tones of communication that reflect the situation. At a job interview, your tone should demonstrate enthusiasm for the company and role. When delivering a lecture, you’d want to use a tone that shows how passionate you are about the topic and how interesting it is. When the tone does not match the scenario/message, communication breaks down.
9. Closing on a weak note
People will pay more attention to how you finish your communication. It will be more memorable to them, and they are likely to place more value on it than the rest of what you had to say. With this in mind, do what you can to finish strong i.e., by adding a personal touch or an exciting final story.
Are you guilty of making any of these communication mistakes? If it helps, put a copy of this list up next to your desk at work and check yourself when you’re about to make one.