Communication crafts the very heart of humanity.
You may not participate in much small talk. Perhaps your time at parties is spent monitoring your friends rather than taking part in conversation. Yet you are still a social being.
Communicating may feel like second-nature. A part of you that never required training. An ability that needn’t be improved. A quality used far too frequently to leave room for the potential error. Still, communication isn’t a skill easily mastered. And you may be mistaking polite, worthwhile conversation for a social etiquette disaster.
Social outings and personal relationships illustrate the need for good conversation. Professional ties highlight the significance of polite, yet direct communication signals. You may deem yourself a skilled communicator. Perhaps, in your eyes, you seem to always find a way to converse well with others. Yet these mistakes are tough to notice, especially if you’re in the wrong.
Why Do We Miscommunicate With Others?
You, along with your peers, are bound to make mistakes. Miscommunication is one of them. Empathy is often confused with sympathy. Conversation gets muddled with misaligned topic changes.
According to Robert Chen, there are three key reasons folks miscommunicate. In his article, “3 Reasons Why Most People Are Bad Communicators,” Chen denotes that effective communication relies on an understanding. Before you can communicate well yourself, you must first understand why people are so prone to communicating badly.
He points out that perception is everything. People only believe what is tangible; what they can see directly in front of them. Thus, actions are often taken out of context. Comments are then misdirected, unfocused, and misinterpreted.
As Chen mentions, people “…stubbornly hold on to their ‘truth’ [while discounting the truth of others…].” If you didn’t witness something, does that make it false? No. If your perception of an incident is a bit underdeveloped, does that make your account plausible? Not necessarily.
Remember, folks: you may believe in only what you see. But your perception isn’t always correct.
Consider the latest argument you took part in. Did both parties speak the same language? This isn’t a question of French versus German; Italian versus Russian. You and your peer may both speak English, but words still carry weight.
The written language carries a plethora of connotations. Your dialect and attitude is dependent upon your environment; your experience with specific words.
Take the word beauty. Your understanding of what beauty is may differ from that of your partner’s. Perhaps you view a model-like figure with pursed lips and sleeked hair as beautiful. Your partner, on the other hand, feels beauty lies deeper than skin, and instead perceives traits like loyalty and strength as the true makings of a beautiful person.
Neither person is wrong. But each opinion illustrates that words are not always perceived in the same manner. Words can be interpreted in many different ways. Don’t assume you and your friend speak the same language.
Chen continues, noting that children believe the mantra: ‘It’s the Thought That Counts.’ Kids are coerced into believing that no matter the consequences, regardless of the issue at hand, it’s truly the thought that counts. If you mess up and fail your friend in the process, they will at least know you tried. They will know you were thinking of them in the process. Right? Wrong.
As Chen so eloquently points out,”…focusing on intention is a very bad way to keep score on the effectiveness of your communication.”
What truly matters is the response you gain. You must make your response clear. The job of your peers is to listen, and – if your words are in the right place – to agree.
5 Communication Mistakes to Avoid
So what are these communication mistakes people are so prone to making? What crafts a bad communicator?
The list is endless. But there are a few key points worth mentioning.
– Striving to answer all questions placed in front of you.
Not all inquiries are meant to be answered.
Hypothetical questions asked by your boss are often utilized as lessons. You aren’t the only one capable of answering each question posed to the group. Whether or not you know the answer is irrelevant.
A good communicator knows the limits. Even more, he will understand them. Learn the difference between hypothetical and wit. Communication rests on civility; respect. Allow others the opportunity to gain a little attention once in a while.
You may enjoy the feelings of accomplishment that follows after answering every question. But will it make you a better communicator with your peers? Not really.
– Disregarding the facts to arrive at a quicker conclusion.
Playing the ignorance card will only get you so far. The facts are there for a reason. They improve accuracy in arguments, enable justice, and create a calm amidst the chaos.
You, along with the rest of us, are guilty of this. We’ve all done it once or twice. Why? Because it’s simple! It pleases your inner-peace to calm chaos as quickly as possible. But in doing so you’re tainting your communication skillset.
The facts play a significant role in any conversation. Don’t push them aside because it’s easy. Use them to gain trust and reliability!
– Resorting to agreement to save face.
Let’s agree to disagree. How often have you heard that statement come up in conversation?
Too often, folks simply agree when conflict arises over the horizon. They take a tip from a teenager’s rulebook and agree. Tension, aggravation, and hostile feelings build, and instead of finding a solution, these toxic feelings are festered.
Rather than communicating a well thought out result, people resort to agreement. To save face. To resolve a disagreement with little brutality and resentment. Yet good communication doesn’t rely on agreement. It relies on the ability to work through conflict.
– Altering another’s point to create a substantial argument.
Arguments, as a rule, rely on a substantial backing. Coming out on top in a conflict shouldn’t be your primary goal. But when one side needs to win, that view is going to need help. Testimony, if you will, from various experts. People who are highly knowledgeable on the topic at hand.
In order to come out on top, some folks find it worthwhile to alter that testimony. Paraphrasing is one thing. But changing the basic premise of another’s point doesn’t make your argument sound. What’s more, it doesn’t make you a good communicator.
You may not realize the alterations you’ve made in general conversation. Mistakes do happen. But be cautious of paraphrasing. Don’t alter another’s opinion to gain an unworthy victory. The consequences aren’t worth the potential repercussions.
– Avoiding empathy in work-related quarrels.
You may exude this quality more than you’d care to admit. Don’t worry – you wouldn’t be the first or the last to fall prey to this mistake.
When coworkers argue, the topic will range from the mundane to the high-level.
What follows are some examples of petty, routine conflicts:
What did you do with my red stapler?
Why aren’t you refilling the coffee pot when you snag the last cup?
Then, there are the more significant, pressing quarrels:
Why didn’t you finish the estimate on time?
Where are the new schematics we need for today’s proposal?
Regardless of the conflict, avoiding empathy will get you nowhere. And fast. Getting to the bottom of why your partner couldn’t complete that contact agreement is one thing. But without empathy, divulging your partner’s reasoning will only hurt you both.
Work is work. Your professional life should remain professional. But you, along with your coworkers, are human. Disregarding that fact might make you feel more career-focused. Perhaps it entices a feeling of personal accomplishment. Yet you’re draining whatever passion once drove your peers.
Learn to be empathetic when work conflicts arise. The issues that unfold down the road will prove much easier to handle.
Communication isn’t for the faint of heart.
Communication isn’t a skill you were born with. It took years of social outings, education, and experiences to craft your ability. Yet even the most adept communicators make mistakes. It’s impossible not to. But rather than allowing such incidents to slide, learn from them!
Improve yourself by avoiding these mistakes. Soon, your communication skills will surpass some of the most articulate folks out there.