Have you ever thought that a lack of effective communication could be the reason for most of your conflicts? If you struggle to find a common language with your partner or often feel misunderstood at work, it could mean you should step up your communication game.
Excellent communication is a highly valued skill that impacts crucial personal and professional aspects of our life. Unfortunately, we don't think about it that much, which can become a problem.
Whopping 53% of individuals mention lack of quality communication as a primary reason for divorce. That's a significant number. In most cases, being unable to talk and reach mutual decisions led to unresolved conflicts and eventually to lost feelings. While looking at the business aspect of communication, 86% of employees and executives see it as the primary reason for failures and confusion.
These numbers show how the seemingly automatic process of transferring information can stand behind most of our troubles. That's why perfecting your communication skills can help you in many aspects of life.
4 Mistakes That Ruin Effective Communication
There are many ways people screw up their communication. They don't listen. They ignore body language. But I've noticed different mistakes that most people aren't aware of that significantly impact the quality of interpersonal relationships.
You Assume People Know What You Want
You may wonder what assumptions have to do with effective communication.
Well, more than you think.
We make automatic assumptions about everything. It's normal. Assumptions are our personal guesses based on our knowledge, experiences and opinions. They help us make sense of things independently, without constant asking. But they can also bring plenty of trouble.
When it comes to personal communication, we can't rely just on our assumptions. We have to validate the information. Because when our assumption is wrong, conflicts usually begin. This is especially true between partners, where somehow, the longer we are together, the more automatic we expect our behaviour to be. So we assume our partner will know what we want and what to do.
Relying on assumptions is the most significant communication mistake in relationships. It leads to unnecessary fights, usually starting with phrases like:
"I thought you would do the dishes while I was outside. "
"I thought you'd know I don't have time tonight. "
Don't just think.
Share important information.
Do you want your partner to help you with anything? Ask them specifically. Don't assume they will do it automatically because they SHOULD know after all this time together.
You Sugarcoat Criticism
People are lately so offended by any form of critics. Somehow we turned into such fragile snowflakes; we could completely break down hearing that something we do is not as good as we thought. Unfortunately, this impossibly low threshold for criticism leaves people with hurt feelings lasting for days.
So the solution is that everyone instead disguises their criticism in complicated metaphors, subtle hints and cautious expressions. Or, far more often, don't say it at all.
Well, that's a big mistake.
It can backfire when you try to cover or hide criticism when you deal with someone, especially if you have a problem with that person. Because that way, this person may never learn what's wrong, and you will never solve your issue. Continuing this behaviour can only bring frustration and anger into your life.
You can't sugarcoat critical information if you want people to understand you. However, don't mistake criticism with an excuse to be rude. No matter your message, you can always be polite and talk straight to someone when they mess up or don't perform well. It shows you are an honest, respectful person.
You Use Exaggerated Expressions and Adjectives
You may sound overly dramatic, even hysteric, if you often use exaggerated expressions. As a consequence, people can feel uncomfortable in your presence.
It will be hard to understand the actual severity of the facts you present, leading other people to confusion if, for example, something was truly bad or not.
People simply won't believe what you're saying.
Do you want to avoid that and sound sharp? Try to match an adjective you choose to describe something to its REAL intensity.
Expand your vocabulary.
When you start using more appropriate adjectives and descriptions, other people will better understand you. Moreover, they will like listening to you as your speech will feel rich and interesting.
You Talk Faster Than You Think
Usually, the people who speak fast and loud are afraid they will lose their chain of thoughts. As a result, they often continue talking even when someone jumps into the conversation, ignoring any attempt to broaden or change the dialogue.
Moreover, when people speak fast, they don't even finish the thought or idea they were thinking, completely losing the point. What's even worse is merging topics together. Without noticing, people can jump from one thing to another so fast they glue entirely diverse information into one long sentence.
Others can only imagine understanding what you mean if you speak like this. Instead, they must constantly ask additional questions to comprehend your information, which is annoying.
Communication like this is inefficient and unpleasant.
Next time you're trying to express your thoughts quickly before you lose them, slow down. Breathe. Stay silent and calmly think about what you want to say. There's nothing wrong with a little pause. You don't lose your thought; you create a better one when you give yourself the space and break the erratic speech. Practice this skill, and your way of communication will become easily comprehensible.
Overriding our communication habits takes dedication and awareness, but focusing on one aspect after another is a sure way to succeed. And because it's a fundamental part of our lives, it's worth the effort. After all, it might save your marriage.