Communication is your calling card, the first impression you make wherever you go. What you say, how you say it and what you convey—the good, the bad, and the ugly—paint a picture and tell a story about your credibility, character and competence (whether the story is true or not).
Deep inside you already know that communication matters, but have you considered that the best-kept secret about communication mistakes is out? Great communicators are in great demand. If you want to be among them, start by avoiding these common and costly communication mistakes:
Assuming that communication has taken place
George Bernard Shaw said it best: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” When clarity of communication matters, ask the recipients of your message to repeat it back to you. Is it accurate? If not, you have work to do.
Ignoring the other person’s needs
Empathy and respect are human needs, especially when it comes to communication. Tony Robbins reminds us that “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world.” Don’t assume that your audience will immediately agree with your views (especially when it comes to hot topics like politics and religion). When in doubt, prepare your communication with this version of The Golden Rule in mind: Communicate with others the way you want them to communicate with you.
Dominating the conversation
We all know someone who turns a potentially meaningful conversation into an exhausting monologue. Don’t let that person be you. Great conversationalists have more than great stories. They have the ability to listen more than they speak, ultimately making others feel heard and valued. In the words of Greek philosopher Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
Reputation and credibility are easily lost and incredibly difficult to regain. Before you make the mistake of gossiping about someone, remember that gossip is a two-barrel gun that will quickly kill your reputation and that of the subject of your indiscretion. Don’t do it. Period.
Death by social media
You’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the era of sharable and potentially viral social media communication, your verbal or visual messages can equate to millions of reputation impressions. Before posting, remember that every piece of communication will be interpreted by someone who has the ability to open and close doors for you. When in doubt, ask feedback from someone willing to tell you the truth.
Bottom line: Your communication is your greatest weakness or greatest competitive advantage. The choice is yours.