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Pitfalls to Avoid in Workplace Communications

Part of the Communicating Effectively For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Effective communications includes choosing the proper method to communicate, the right time, and the relevant message. The pitfalls in the following list are ones to avoid:

  • Using e-mail to express concerns. Instead, go to the source to work out problems in person.

  • Talking too much in sales situations. Instead, learn to understand the customer’s needs and then speak to indicate how you can help meet those needs.

  • Responding to requests by immediately saying it can’t be done. Instead, emphasize what you can do and when you can meet the request.

  • *Providing your employees, if you are a manager, with opinionated criticism when their performance needs improvement. Instead, provide employees with specific performance-focused feedback based on your observations.

  • Saying yes when you really don’t mean it. Instead, express your concerns constructively and offer alternatives as to what you think will work better in the situation.

  • Sitting by quietly and passively when people discuss issues with you. Instead, interact with the message you’re hearing and provide verbal feedback to check your understanding of the message.

  • Dwelling on what’s wrong or who’s at fault when dealing with problem situations. Instead, put your focus on working out solutions with others and on how to make the situation better.

  • Focusing on yourself — what you like and don’t like — as you receive others’ messages. Instead, shift your focus from yourself to concentrating on your speaker’s message and work to understand what that message means without passing judgment on it.

  • Attempting to soften a point when addressing tough or sensitive issues. Instead, be direct, constructive, and straightforward so that your message and its importance come across clearly and respectfully.

  • Pushing forward with your idea and disregarding concerns that people have with it. Instead, listen to and acknowledge the concerns and address them. Sometimes the best way to gain support for an idea about which others have reservations is to show that you hear those concerns.

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