Most leaders will tell you that communication is vital to a well-functioning workplace. Then they start screaming, ignoring, dominating, misunderstanding or annoying their employees. There is a huge gap between what leaders say they know about effective communication and what they actually practice. Here are five of the biggest workplace communication mistakes.
1. Not listening. How can you gather the information you need or figure out what is going on in your workplace if you don't listen? You can't. Listening is the most vital skill to acquire information, promote collaboration and build trust in the workplace.
2. Assuming you know what the other person is going to say. Cutting people off because you've "heard it all before" or you're irritated is a great way to tell your employees they don't matter. Try listening to your employees without interrupting before you decide you know what they're talking about.
3. Thinking of the next thing you want to say instead of what the other person is saying. Many leaders are obsessed with the next wonderful thing they're going to say. Fight this urge by clearing your mind before and while you're listening to your employees and focusing on understanding what they're saying.
4. Getting angry or upset and reacting negatively to what you're hearing. Your employees will be much less likely to share information or ideas with you if you always fly off the handle. Communication doesn't have to be a constant struggle. Work on controlling your own emotions so you can communicate on a deeper level with your employees.
5. Not setting aside time to talk. Hurried conversations often end up in misunderstandings because the participants haven't devoted the time necessary to get on the same page. Make sure your important conversations are carried out with plenty of time for each participant to understand what's being said.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these five concepts? If so, no worries, simply make small adjustments to move toward a more balanced communication style that will get you better results. Effective communication is about practicing positive behaviors every day, not just saying you do. What action will you take in your workplace to avoid communication mistakes?