As we’ve mentioned many times – communication is key for healthy relationships – no matter if they’re part of your work or person life.
And what’s important about communications is that mistakes can happen. While some of them are not a big deal, others can have bad consequences. They can tarnish your reputation, upset your colleagues, clients or even lead to lost revenue.
- Not editing your text
Spelling, tone and grammatical mistakes make you look careless. That’s why it’s necessary to check what you’ve written before sending a message, e-mail or file. Proofread your text and look up any words you’re not sure about. Of course, it’s acceptable not to be perfect, but it looks bad if you have too many mistakes.
It can be hard to see errors in your work, but you can ask a colleague to read documents before you send them. Also, you can read your work aloud – this makes it easier to catch typos and tone errors. Finally, give yourself time to reflect on your document and to make changes.
- Delivering bad news by Email
Written communication channels don’t allow you to soften bad news with nonverbal cues, and they don’t allow you to deal 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 and reduce long-term upset.
When you deliver a difficult message in person, you can see if people have misunderstood some information, clarify the message, or help people deal with the difficult news.
- Avoiding unwanted conversations
At some point, you will need to have conversations, which you don’t like, such as to give negative feedback, deal with angry customers, fire someone, deliver bad news. It’s tempting to try to avoid these conversations, but this can cause further problems.
Preparation is important for handling difficult conversations. Learn to give clear, actionable feedback, write down what you’re going to say, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and be empathetic. You may also want to role-play your conversation first so that you feel confident in both your words and your body language.
- Reacting, Not Responding
Reacting, instead of responding, is a huge mistake in communication, especially when talking with colleagues or employees.
Often reactions are emotional, and people say things they don’t mean, without considering the long-term effects of their words. Responding is more thoughtful, and it’s guided by logic and reasoning.
Learning how to go from reacting to responding in conflict situations will improve your communication skills and help you handle conflicts better.
To do this you have to practice mindful awareness that allows you to monitor your automatic reactions, and you can stop them. Instead of reacting straight away, be mindful, pause, take a deep breath, think and then respond.
- Not having an open mind
Being close-minded can influence business communication negatively and even ruin your relationships with customers or employees. Closed-minded people usually spend more time talking than listening, tend to ignore opposing beliefs, and are not willing to consider new ideas and opinions.
People who have an open mind easily accept people from diverse backgrounds and respect their differences, understand others better, listen without judging, and consider all sides of an issue before concluding something.
If you want to have an open mine try these techniques:
- listen actively without interrupting or getting absorbed in your thoughts
- when you conclude quickly, ask yourself whether it’s true and look for opinions and facts
- generate several possibilities to choose from rather than settling for the first answer which comes to your mind
- broaden your horizons by educating yourself and expanding your knowledge
Everyone makes communication mistakes from time to time. However, you’ll improve your reputation, relationships, and communication skills, if you avoid the most common errors.
Remember, communication is a two-way process, and the key to good communication is to think about others’ needs. Be ready for questions, and listen to what your people have to say.