When you miscommunicate in a personal, private relationship, you can get into an argument and an hour later find yourself apologizing, and being apologized to. In business, miscommunication doesn’t ever end in hugs and laughter – unless it’s a family business, it usually turns into disaster – especially when the misunderstandings aren’t just from a few feet away, but spanning entire oceans and countries.
Mistake #1: Not listening.
This is easily the biggest mistake you can make, and it’s one that happens rather often. Not listening can occur for a number of different reasons in any combination of events – you could be handling a meeting, bent on handing out a complaint or explaining your end of a project without listening to how everyone else is doing – and it can completely ruin communication.
People aren’t born great listeners – it requires patience, interest, and experience to become a great listener, and unless you’re specifically paying attention towards your communication skills and are on constant guard that you’re taking care to listen to what others have to say, you may easily end up not catching on to the other part of the conversation, missing important details or misinterpreting something that you might’ve deemed irrelevant when it was in reality quite prudent.
Mistake #2: Limiting yourself to email.
Everyone knows email. Email, technically speaking, is older than the Internet. Email has been a thing for four decades, and the ability to send mail across the World Wide Web is roughly 20 years old.
Despite that rather senior age in a world and industry where innovations come and go, everyone’s got an email address. And we still use email as a primary identifier, to open up accounts on platforms and applications, and communicate.
This is especially true among businesses, where the prevalence of email has taken on the same sort of nature as the telephone. That being said, you shouldn’t limit yourself to email. For one, while text-based communication is great, it’s also not real-time. Secure, private IRC-style – which, as per TechTarget, is a web-based private chat room system – instant messaging platforms for teams and businesses are a great alternative to keep the conversation going at a rapid flow.
Likewise, there are plenty of moments when an email or a chat message simply isn’t appropriate. Unless you’ve conversed plenty with your clients, you should be opting for something far more formal and comprehensive, such as a premium cloud video conference for IT solution. These enterprise platforms, such as BlueJeans, allow you to start and join calls from dedicated conference systems to your own workstation and smartphone, making face-to-face communication a preferable and simple alternative, for the many cases wherein it’s simply the best way to discuss an important topic.
Mistake #3: Being unnecessarily competitive.
Communication and collaboration are within the same league of one another – and competitiveness, like a chili pepper, is a spice that can easily make or break a dish. Use just the right amount, and its spice will get the heart pumping, the senses tingling, and the tongue to a point of sheer joy. Too much, and it’s all ruined.
Being competitive within a department or team can boost productivity and, in a healthy dose, almost ironically boost camaraderie. Alternatively, being too competitive can create a bitter relationship among team members – to the point where they stop listening to each other in their drive to outdo the other.
If you’re a team leader or project manager, identify this sort of behavior among your team members and ensure that they understand that it will not be tolerated under any circumstance.
Mistake #4: Missing out on body language.
There is more to the spectrum of digital communication than the email and a fully-fledged HD video conference – but one of the keys to great communication is knowing, almost latently, when what form of communication is most applicable over another.
Email is great – but sometimes, a quick chat message can be more urgent. Alternatively, if something can’t be conveyed through text alone, you don’t have to jump onto video conferencing – a phone call will do.
But far too often, people feel almost shy of the camera – and they decide to do a simple phone call or audio conference instead. This is a mistake – video conferencing can help both sides pick up simple and subtle – and important – cues that are simply not present over the phone.
Mistake #5: Not asking more often.
This is the biggest mistake – assuming that because you understood something, someone else picks it up almost instantly too. You have to rely on the fact that far too often, people are simply unreliable – follow ups and asking questions have to become second nature. As per Business Insider, you need to follow up and explain what the intended end result of a task or action should look like. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a finished product that doesn’t at all apply to what the company wanted to begin with.
If you avoid these common mistakes, you’ll have a much better time working with your team – and arriving at the right conclusions together.