Common Communication Mistakes

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The following is a list of common communication mistakes people make. By avoiding them, you will communicate more effectively.
Mistake #1: Failing to listen well.
Most people are poor listeners. Consider this question: Are you doing more than half the talking when you’re in conference with others? If so, you’re probably doing more talking than listening and could use some listening training.

To improve your listening skills, try these tips:

Mistake #2: Failing to use the “you approach.”
People are interested in what’s in it for them – not what you or your organization desires. A “you approach” communicates to the recipient that you care about his or her needs. It sets a positive tone and predisposes the reader to react favorably toward what you have to say.

Some suggestions:
Mistake #3: Sending the wrong non-verbal signals.
Experts claim that 65 percent of a message is conveyed non-verbally in face-to-face communication. Yet many people remain unaware of the kinds of non-verbal signals they emit.  To communicate effectively, you’ve got to send the right kinds of signals and be able to read the signals others are sending to you.
Some suggestions:
Mistake #4: Failing to write to be understood.
Many people write to impress – not to express. They use long, pompous words in the mistaken belief that these words add dignity and strength to their messages.
Others obscure their messages because they don’t want to take the responsibility for their words or don’t want to reveal how little they know.
Good communicators write to be understood. They:

Mistake #5: Lacking knowledge of audiences.
Communicators must relate their messages to the specific characteristics, needs and interests of their audiences. They should know such things as educational levels and occupations; beliefs and attitudes; group loyalties and norms; whether the audience is friendly, hostile or indifferent.

Never send a message unless it’s tailored to fit the audience. Ask yourself the following questions before attempting to communicate:

Mistake #6: Not realizing that communication is a two-way process
Many people think that communication is finished when information is imparted. They fail to consider that communication involves getting feedback and evaluating it.

Some suggestions:

Mistake #7: Making obvious grammar and usage errors.
People who appear to have the potential to get ahead sometimes fall short because they failed to learn the rudiments of grammar and usage. Here are four common language errors:

Mistake #8: Failing to observe common courtesies
How others view you has a lot to do with how your messages are received. If you come across as impersonal or rude, your ability to communicate with people will suffer.
If you’re respectful of others and treat them courteously, you’ll communicate to them that they’re important – and they’ll enjoy being in your company and listening to what you have to say.
Try these suggestions:

Reprinted with permission from Communication Briefings (

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