5 Common Communication Mistakes and How To Fix Them

Posted by in Career Advice

Communication (Photo credit: del.art.ful)
Communicating more effectively.

Whether you are looking for a job or just trying to excel at the job you have, knowing how to communicate effectively is key. Not only is it important to be able to express your ideas well, you also have to be able to understand the needs of others. The problem is that so much of our communication with others happens online; it can be challenging to be sure that your meaning is coming through to the other party.

No matter where you are in your career, you can benefit from working on your communication skills. Luckily, most communication problems are caused by a few mistakes, making them easy to avoid.

Here are 5 common communication mistakes and how to fix them:

Turning into a fight - It's so easy for all of us to fall into the trap of thinking of a disagreement as a fight. This means that there has to be a clear winner and a clear loser. This mindset makes it really hard to understand the other person's viewpoint and find some type of middle ground. If you find yourself tempted to escalate a disagreement, take a deep breath and try to look for a compromise. When you try to win by any means possible, you only end up making yourself look bad.

Treat others with respect - We've all heard this rule since we were small children, but it bears repeating. When you are disagreeing with someone, remember to respect their views and respect yourself at the same time. Approaching others with respect is also a great way to avoid getting stuck in the fight mindset.

Taking it all personally
- When you feel misunderstood, it's so tempting to lash out or just shut down. Resorting to name calling or lashing out in fear, anger, defensiveness or embarrassment never ends well. When you feel your emotions getting involved, take a moment and remind yourself that both parties are looking for ways to be understood. Even if the other party is trying to escalate the disagreement, don't allow yourself to be distracted from your primary goal of understanding and compromise.

Rehearsing conflict ahead of time - Handling conflict is scary and for most people, it's unpleasant. If you're like me, you probably have spent hours obsessing and mentally rehearsing what you want to say to someone before you approach them. This is almost always a mistake. When you rehearse, you are planning your responses to what you imagine the other person will say. This makes it harder to actually listen to the other person when you are in the moment. Instead of rehearsing, ask yourself what the problem is from your point of view, what the problem is from the other person's point of view and what you think the best compromise will be. This will allow you to use your nervous energy to prepare more effectively.

Becoming distracted from the goal - With any sort of communication, you have a clear goal in mind. Don't allow yourself to get so distracted by disagreements that you lose sight of the goal. You can prevent this by having a desired outcome in mind before you begin and keep coming back to it. Sometimes it helps to ask yourself if you just want to be right, just want to "win" or if you want to resolve the issue.

Communication is so important, but it's easy to end up in a spiral of negativity. Stay focused on the issue at hand and don't allow yourself to lash out and react in ways that aren't productive.

What other things do you think hinder effective communication? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for PhillyJobsBlog and Nexxt, along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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