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10 Common Communication Mistakes to Avoid

It can be embarrassing to make mistakes with communication. For example, if you send an email without checking it, and later realize that it contained an error, you can end up looking sloppy and unprofessional.

But other communication mistakes can have more serious consequences. They can tarnish your reputation, upset clients, or even lead to lost revenue.

In this article, we’ll look at 10 common communication mistakes, and we’ll discuss what you can do to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Not Editing Your Work

Mistakes with spelling, tone, and grammar make you look careless. That’s why it’s essential to check all of your communications before you send them.

Don’t rely on spell-checkers: they won’t pick up words that are used incorrectly. Instead, proofread your work, and use a dictionary to look up any words that you’re unsure about.

You may find it helpful to make a list of words and phrases that you find it hard to get right (such as “your/you’re,” “its/it’s,” or “affect/effect”). Store this close to hand.

Mistake 2: Delivering Bad News by Email

Would you announce layoffs to your team by email? If you did, you could upset everyone!

Written communication channels don’t allow you to soften difficult messages with nonverbal cues (such as body language), and they don’t allow you to deal immediately with intense emotions.

If you need to deliver bad news, do this in person, and think carefully about how you can do it sensitively, so that you can convey your message but minimize long-term upset at the same time.

Mistake 3: Avoiding Difficult Conversations

At some point, you will need to give negative feedback. It’s tempting to try to avoid these conversations, but this can cause further problems – in particular, you may let small problems grow into big ones.

Preparation is the key to handling difficult conversations. Learn to give clear, actionable feedback, and use tools such as the Situation – Behavior – Impact technique to encourage your people to reflect on their behavior.

Mistake 4: Not Being Assertive

Assertiveness is about stating what you need, while considering the wants and needs of others.

You may not always get your way when you’re assertive, but you stand a better chance of getting it, or of reaching a compromise, because you’ve been clear about your needs.

Mistake 5: Reacting, Not Responding

Have you ever shouted at a colleague in frustration, or sent a terse reply to an email, without thinking your point through? If so, you’re likely to have reacted emotionally, instead of responding calmly.

This kind of emotional reaction can damage your reputation. You may upset people with your strong emotions, and give the impression that you lack self-control and emotional intelligence。

Mistake 6: Not Preparing Thoroughly

Poorly-prepared presentations, reports, or emails frustrate your audience and, over time, damage your reputation. This is why it’s essential to prepare and plan your communications carefully.

Mistake 7: Using a “One-Size-Fits-All” Approach to Communication

If you use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to communication, you may overlook people’s different personalities, needs and expectations. In fact, your communications need to address those differences as much as possible.

If you’re preparing a presentation, make sure that you appreciate that people have different learning styles, and that you cater for these. This means that everyone – from those who learn best by reading to those who prefer a more hands-on approach – can benefit from your session.

Mistake 8: Not Keeping an Open Mind When Meeting New People

Today’s workplace is a melting pot of ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations, abilities, and viewpoints. These differences create a rich tapestry of experiences and opinions that greatly enhance our lives.

However, it can be tempting to stereotype new colleagues or clients, or to make assumptions about them based on just a few pieces of information. This is especially true if you haven’t had much time to get to know them well.

Mistake 9: Assuming That Your Message Has Been Understood

Always take time to check that people have understood your message.

For example, when you send out an email, you could encourage people to respond with questions, or to reply if they haven’t understood part of your message.

Mistake 10: Accidentally Violating Others’ Privacy

Have you ever forwarded a sensitive email to the wrong person, or sent an incorrect attachment? These kinds of errors can cause serious commercial problems, violate people’s privacy, and lead to embarrassment and confusion.