I usually like to focus on the positive, but sometimes knowing what NOT to do can be a big help.
In this post, we highlight some big mistakes that people can make in their communication so you are prepared to do exactly the opposite.
Error#1: Not being assertive
Being assertive means being able to express your own needs and wants whilst taking into account others’ needs and wants. If someone is disagreeing with you, it can be comfortable to hold back and acquiesce. But if you don’t express yourself fully, you will regret it later. Being assertive is the sweet spot between aggressive and passive. It’s a skill that takes practice but it’s well worth practising.
Error #2: Avoiding a difficult conversation
To some extent, this is related to not being assertive. But the difficult conversations are the important conversations. Whether it’s giving ‘negative’ feedback or negotiating something that you know the other person doesn’t want, both of you will be better off from having the conversation rather than letting the atmosphere between you both become strained.
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Error #3: Assuming that your message has been understood
A very important part of the communication process is how the message is received, whether that’s oral or written. We tend to spend a lot of time preparing a message as the sender, but often don’t take the time to check whether we’ve been understood in the way we intended. When communicating orally, tune in to the other person’s non-verbal communication. With an important email, for example, re-read and edit it until you are convinced it is absolutely clear. Encourage the receiver of your email to confirm they have understood the most important points.
Error #4: Reacting instead of responding
There’s a big difference between reacting and responding and again this is partly related to being assertive if we understand that to be assertive we need to access the thinking space that lies between aggression and passivity. If the topic is heated, take the time to consider carefully what someone else is saying so you can prepare a calm response. Breathe and count to three before replying. You will then likely have some control over your emotions and so can RESPOND instead of reacting in a knee.jerk kind of way. And remember, we all need to be emotionally calm before we can think rationally to then respond wisely.
Error #5: Not keeping an open mind when meeting new people
When we make assumptions about others based on stereotypes, we are shutting ourselves off from connection and deeper communication. In today’s world of varying ethnicities, religions, ages, sexual orientations and viewpoints there is a lot of scope for original and creative ideas. Try to become aware of when you are starting to make assumptions and get them out of your head. Instead, make a concerted attempt to listen closely to what the other person is saying and distance their words from the stereotypical image that may be impacting you.
Communicating effectively is a lifelong learning process. On top of that, the goalposts are changing all the time. Avoiding these five errors isn’t going to make you a perfect communicator but they will certainly help you on your way.
Post inspired by the article ’10 Common Communication Mistakes’ published on www.mindtools.com