5 Common Communication Mistakes

Good communication and interpersonal relationships are imperative to overall business performance and sustainability. Yet they tend to be neglected in terms of their importance. Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, once said that 60% of all management problems are the result of poor communication.

While poor business decisions can cause the ultimate failure of a business, many businesses become torn apart and fail because of communication and relationship problems. Here are five common communication and relationship problems.

  1. Dictating This is management and communications along the lines of: “This is my organization. If you want to work here, do what I tell you. If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.” Trust and respect are the essential to developing healthy leader-follower relationships. Employees need to be treated with respect, shown appreciation, and given recognition from their leaders to maintain engagement in their work. Threats and paychecks may be enough to get one task done, but the long haul they don’t come close to motivating employees the same way trust and respect do.
  2. Secrecy Open communication is important in any environment says Lin Grensing-Pophal, author of “Human Resource Essentials: Your Guide to Starting and Running the HR Function,” it is important to avoid any sense or perception that employees or staff are more “in the know” than other employees. Even when this is not the case, the potential for the perception of exclusivity may exist. Steps should be taken to address any issues that may arise openly, honestly and without preference being given to anyone or any group within the workplace.
  3. Infallibility Rabbi Feldman was having trouble with his congregation. It seemed they could agree upon nothing. The president of the congregation said, “Rabbi, this cannot be allowed to continue. Come, there must be a conference, and we must settle all areas of dispute once and for all.” The rabbi agreed. At the appointed time, the rabbi, the president, and ten elders met in the conference room of the synagogue, sitting about a magnificent mahogany table.One by one the issues were dealt with and on each issue, it became more and more apparent that the rabbi was a lonely voice in the wilderness. The president of the synagogue said, “Come, Rabbi, enough of this. Let us vote and allow the majority to rule.” He passed out the slips of paper and each man made his mark. The slips were collected and the president said, “You may examine them, Rabbi. It is eleven to one against you. We have the majority.”

    Whereupon the rabbi rose to his feet in offended majesty. “So,” he said, “you now think because of the vote that you are right and I am wrong. Well, that is not so. I stand here” –and he raised his arms impressively– “and call upon the Holy One of Israel to give us a sign that I am right and you are wrong.”And as he said this, there came a frightful crack of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning that struck the mahogany table and cracked it in two. The room was filled with smoke and fumes, and the president and the elders were hurled to the floor. Through the carnage, the rabbi remained erect and untouched, his eyes flashing and a grim smile on his face.

    Slowly, the president lifted himself above what was left of the table. His hair was singed, his glasses were hanging from one ear, his clothing was in disarray. Finally he said, “All right, eleven to two. But we still have the majority.”

  4. Leaders need to show commitment and consistency. Employees value a leader who can stick to his guns. But self-justification and blind faith in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary can push leaders over the line into arrogance. If you’ve crossed this line then you are at serious risk of losing all credibility and there is only one way to get it back: Admit you were wrong.
  5. Conflict Conflict is a normal and natural part of our workplace. Conflict can be helpful in making necessary changes within the home or work environment. However, unresolved conflict can result in feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, hopelessness, depression, and other emotions. It can result in behaviors such as physical or emotional withdrawal, resignation from jobs, dissolution of personal relations, aggression, and even violence.Many managers employ the ostrich technique in dealing with conflict. They bury their heads in the sand and try to ignore it. However, this does nothing to improve the situation. When conflict is driven underground, it only grows and will stay underground until it is so intense that an explosion may the next step.
  6. Unfairness Learn how to fight fair. To do this, people need to focus on developing both emotional maturity and interpersonal skills. At a minimum, there are five basic ground rules: avoid personal attacks, don’t drag others into taking sides, don’t use subversion, focus on the issue at hand (i.e., don’t dredge up old issues) and keep heated discussions private. Bullying or childish behavior may win battles, but the result may be that businesses lose the war.

When it comes to working with people, those who do it best tend to follow two rules which reflect two of the habits Stephen Covey describes in his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” and “Think win-win.”

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