If you want to build better communication skills, a good first step is identifying and avoiding these common problems
This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.
By Lolly Daskal
Here are some common communication mistakes we are all guilty of and it would be best to avoid:
One-size-fits-all communication. When you try to communicate to a group of people, you may notice that some get it right away while others need more explaining. Different people have different needs and expectations. Consider the range of learning styles of those you’re communicating with and plan a communication strategy that addresses them all.
Lack of attention to tone. Often in times of crises, you may have an edgy tone. Tone is important at any time, but especially when in the middle of a challenge. No matter what the circumstances, learn to pay attention to tone. One trick: Before you speak, pause and take a breath. Then communicate what needs to be said.
Avoiding the difficult conversation. Everybody faces conflict, and avoiding conflict does not make it go away. Learn how to plan for and carry out a difficult conversation by providing clear and actionable feedback, even when it is difficult for you.
Holding back what’s on your mind. Speaking up is about stating what you need while still considering the wants and needs of others. Speak clearly and make your requests known, gently but with self-confidence, while maintaining good relationships.
Reacting instead of responding. When it’s your impulse to react with anger and frustration, wait. Take a deep breath and consider all the facts (including those you may not know). When you pause to reflect, you can respond instead of react.
Indulging in gossip. Unfounded talk not only ruins reputations but also erodes trust. Even if it’s not intended to be cruel, it can have devastating consequences. Leave no place for gossip, innuendo, or speculation if you want to be trusted and esteemed as a communicator (and, for that matter, as a human being).
Closing your mind. In today’s workplace, there are all kinds of religions, cultures, and ethnicity orientations. Excluding any of them would reflect a closed-minded point of view. Instead, open your heart and begin to embrace diversity. When you embrace, you improve your communication via a diverse range of experiences and creativity benefiting all.
Speaking more and listening less. To stay on top of any situation, stop speaking and listen. When you listen more than you speak, you open yourself up to learning and empathy–which in turn help you accomplish more.
Thinking you are being understood. Take the time to check that people have understood your message. It seems like a simple thing, but misinterpretations abound and can have terrible consequences.
Communication is a precious commodity. When you can avoid these fundamental blunders, it will benefit you, your communication, your leadership, your effectiveness, your success, and your business.